with greg layton

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Our High Performance teams series now enters part 12, and the second episode of the Culture pillar, where I talk you through how to tighten the bonds between the people in the team, and in you and the team.

When one refers to tightening bonds in a business context, we're really just talking about building trust between the team members and how this creates not only a sense of belonging, but results in higher performance. This is really like the mortar between bricks.

So in this episode, I outline:

  • How a personality-modelling activity will help you understand others and communicate better with them;
  • Other fun games to find out more about colleagues’ backgrounds;
  • The 5 why’s method so as to peel back the onion layers and find out what makes them tick.

Know your colleague

There is a lot of research now that shows that the best high performance teams know each other really well. Not just the quality of skill and the individuals’ abilities, but they all say they know each other really well away from the office. So tightening the bonds and building trust is all about humanising the relationship.

However, there is a myth that if you know the people too well, it makes it harder to lead them. This is simply because they haven't quite developed the skill to hold people accountable. The only way to combat this is by building trust, which creates a sense of belonging to the team and the organisation. That is where you get this cool spirit every day when people kick out of bed and want to come to work. Why does this happen? Because they like the people they work with. They respect them. They know them inside-out. They know their families and what they've been through to get where they are right now.

To form a team that’s really going to make an enormous difference in the world, you’ve got to have people you can trust, and so you’ve got to tighten the bonds and get to know them deeply. Here are a few ways that you can drive tighter bonds with your new team:

1. Personality modelling

Get some personality modelling done of all the different people in the team and then come together and really connect over the results. Put everyone's names up on a wall with the different personality types they are, and then what you can do is get everyone to work out how their particular type interacts with another one. What are the strengths of the pairing? What might be some areas where you would struggle in your relationship? This approach actually generates some high-quality conversation.

2. A personality warmup

This is a wonderful way of connecting as a group and you can have a lot of fun doing it. You could do something like a Saturday Night Live where you've got to introduce each other as your guests on the David Letterman show. You've got to interview the other person and find out all about their history, their stories, victories, challenges. Then you've got to introduce them to the show as the greatest guest you've ever had on the show and you just can't wait to interview them.

3. The 5 whys method

The way this works is that you ask someone why did a specific situation in their past happen. Once they've responded, you ask, “Well, why did that happen?” and keep going another 4 times with the same question. You could also ask 5 why questions that are related to the previous question. For example: “Why do you come to work?” You'll no doubt get something back like, “We need income for my family, and I've got kids.” Then you could ask, “Well, why is income so important to you?” And so on. After 5 questions like this, you should get to the root cause of why they come to work, or really what makes them tick.

4. 20 questions

Sit down opposite a colleague and write down 20 cool questions about each other's life. Then ask one another those questions. This is a great way to get a really deeper understanding of one another.

5. Storytelling

Normally, you will start with a topic. For example, “the best/worst/funniest/most embarrassing time in my life was…”

Have a look back over the last year or so, or however long you've been leading this particular team. Ask yourself how much time you have spent glueing the team together and what you could do to help them understand how each other ticks.
Stay epic,

Next article in the High Performance Teams series:

Pillar 3/Culture: Part 13 – Hunt or Be Hunted