Outstanding teams

Reframing trust for true teamwork

Whether you are CEO, director, or have just been promoted to team leader there is a future you waiting to emerge: one who is able to see themselves as others do, has the self-awareness to step into leadership that empowers others as well as self, and one who increases the potential of every interaction in which you participate

The challenge: how to step up team engagement to increase performance?

GBL was asked to provide some development support for the Finance Team of an international software company in Germany.  Both HR and the team manager thought the team was operating below its potential and seemed to be stuck.  The enquiry with each individual member conducted ahead of the first team session showed an awareness for their insular state and a lack of “team spirit”.  Their office atmosphere was described as being cool, quiet and contained.

The enquiry also showed a willingness for shift that would raise individual levels of wellbeing as well as productivity.  The team aspired to become a more high performing team built on a basis of mutual respect and trust.

Our Process

Together with the team manager and HR, we decided to use a team assessment (The International Trust in Teams Indicator) to add depth to the initial enquiry. Team members, including the manager, responded to the online questionnaire and the team results were debriefed in the first team workshop.  Initial caution soon dissolved and was replaced by high interest and curiosity. Team members were keen to work on challenges  identified and found that an atmosphere of mutual respect could include fun and high energy! We looked at what makes teams high performing, the subject of trust, understanding the ITTI Report and what that meant for the team.

To ensure commitment to concrete actions that would continue to make a difference over time, small groups were tasked with translating the assessment results into actionable behaviours. Team members reported that even small actions that had been identified were making a difference to their team spirit.  Promises made to each other during the workshops were being held. Periodic reviews and further workshops ensured ongoing learning was transferred to the workplace.

By pinpointing the most critical trust gaps, and addressing these, the solid basis for trust needed for high performance teamwork was being built, one action, one conversation, one offer of support at a time. 

Letting go of the baton

The final hand-over of such work is the point at which the team and team leader feel that they are responsible for their own ongoing development and accountable to each other to make this happen. It’s the “transfer of the baton” from team coach back to the team.  In this way as team coaches we encourage sustainable development.

Team coaching that works

For teams to perform at their best, team members need to develop as a whole team together (and not just as individuals). For this reason we start by envisioning what a high performing team is – not just what it does, but also how it feels to be in one.  For the most part, business meetings are task focused.  How people work together and what impact this has on their motivation are subjects that are rarely discussed yet are critical to the results produced.  Workshops allow team members to have important discussions about what is working and what gets in the way.  We encourage dialogue, listening and daring to challenge for robust results.

The team assessment chosen for this team (The International Trust in Team Indicator) breaks down the woolly subject of “trust” into clearly defined themes that are easily understood and measured.  By using the language of the assessment, team members are able to talk about expectations of each other and address gaps that block progress.  What behaviours are acceptable and not, what are individual preferences regarding communication between team members and handling conflict when it arises?  Having open conversations about such topics, that can get in the way of productive relationships, has a direct impact of individual and overall team performance. At the end of each workshop, all participants commit to actions that make a difference to ongoing team development.

I am very pleased with the whole team development journey. I really think the team has made considerable progress.

Feedback from the team manager
(Director of Finance)


Working with a team for a single workshop may raise levels of awareness that something needs changing, but for a lasting impact, which develops healthy change, it needs to be approached as a multi-stage project. This includes team workshops, individual coaching and review meetings.  

The longer term result, as with the team in this study, is one where individuals feel they are learning and developing individually and as a team and achieving so much more than they were able at the start.  They know what they are striving for and are clear not just about their strategy and goals but also how they can operate at their best, together.

The Finance Team recognised that the final workshop did not signify the end of a journey, but rather an opportunity to continue to build together a team that is more dynamic and inclusive, serving their common purpose and creating more value for stakeholders beyond the team itself.

Feedback from the Team Manager and Members 

Some closing round comments included the following:

“I will celebrate successes – I’ll be the CCO (chief celebration officer).”

 “Since I have a broad knowledge of all the systems I will take care of new people and help them get up to speed.” 

“I will promise to listen, try my best to do the best for our team and support in any way I can.”

Get in touch

Curious to know more about how we can partner with you to create a thriving workplace?

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