Trust is the single most critical component of teamwork. Unfortunately, some people are just untrusting and believe in survival of the fastest and the fittest. Employment is just another opportunity to compete, win and validate their belief that they are capable of looking out for number one. Untrusting people expect others to disappoint and their fatalistic attitude generally creates a self fulfilling prophecy to the failure of a team. All forms of personal interaction have one purpose for the untrusting, improve their own circumstances.  They may be referred to as part of a group but the untrusting think individually and functionally, are team members in name only. 

 A third answer to the question of how to convert a dream into a team is the elimination of untrusting and the conversion of the skeptical. Do not worry about picking these types out because the untrusting will identify themselves by their argumentative, confrontational attitude and the skeptical will identify themselves with their unwillingness to make a commitment to the common cause.  Boot camps, training camps and basic training are all utilized by team-critical organizations to identify the untrusting and convert the skeptical. However, businesses generally do not have the luxury of training camps and therefore must rely upon instincts and trial and error in the identification and elimination of those who lack sufficient trust to be a team member. Team building in business requires taking the time to get to know your people and utilizing instincts and experiences to make decisions as to who you are dealing with and who can be a productive member of the team. 

The three aforementioned steps to turning a dream into a team lead us to the final answer, assume that everyone remaining after elimination of the untrusting, is a skeptic and that they must be won over one at a time.  Don’t condemn the skeptics. To the contrary, acknowledge that an interdependent team attitude is not natural human behavior for them. Team is a choice to give up the “I” and “me” priority. Interdependence is a learned behavior. To convert the skeptics and teach teamwork, express and continue to relentlessly reaffirm that working as a team will be more gratifying, productive and secure than taking on the world as the Lone Ranger without Tonto. This is not a hard sell in the family business realm because those employees who still have jobs are generally team compatible because economic stress has eliminated the self servers. Furthermore, economic stress has made your employees very receptive to the concept that it is in their best interest to assume a vested interest in the welfare of their colleagues, team members and employer. Sell the team vision that relies upon cross accountability, creates less dependence upon the talents of a few superstars and places more reliance upon the normal doing the abnormal, working as a team. Express an expectation of doing more with less and recognize those who give it up for the team.  Family business leaderships should above all demonstrate team attitudes.  The best way for a leader to demonstrate commitment to teamwork is to participate as a member of a team (without being the leader) demonstrating that they can trust and that they are trust worthy. 

Succession cannot reasonably rely upon a dream, but it is certainly within the grasp of a team.

 Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay informed on how to overcome related succession planning issues.