Humans are social creatures; our strength is in our connections with other people. The trust in those connections is the glue that holds teams together. As such “social distancing” is at odds with something at the very core of who we are as people and unchecked will jeopardise the ability of teams to perform.
With people at home surrounded by the uncertainty of what is going on around them and disconnected and isolated from their networks, our feelings of vulnerability are likely to be dialled up a notch or two. And when we feel vulnerable what do we do? We go defensive and protective and we feel scared, and in that storm it’s hard to trust. We need to really know that people have got our backs, we need to really trust that they are there for us.
Without the physical presence we are accustomed to, it is easy for gaps to open up in the trust team members have with each other and that is the start of a slippery slope. On the other hand, have each other’s back through the difficult times and you’ll emerge stronger than ever.
When we talk about trust we are talk about vulnerability-based trust. i.e. deciding that something I hold to be of value is safe with this person in this situation. In this current climate leaders need to be stepping up their effort to trust and be trustworthy, give and hold those things of value. Connect with people to recognise and acknowledge the challenges and difficulties. Accept and communicate the uncertainty (no-one has all the answers at the moment, and everyone knows it) but let people know we are in this together and will work through it together.
As we settle into the foreseeable, to build trust, reframe your role from working around social distancing to building social connection while physically distanced.