The sharing of information, expertise and experience within a team is an essential ingredient of performance. Yet, it doesn’t happen just because people sit in the same room, or in the same building. This is because sharing involves risks – social risks (holding unpopular beliefs), status risks (saying something foolish), career risks (disagreeing with the boss), etc. Few will take these risks unless there is trust.
Take the simple act of asking a co-worker for help or support with a task, and the act of giving that help. Here are risks for both parties.
The asker reveals a lack of expertise and risks appearing less competent to others. Consequently, he might prefer to ask someone he trusts, even though the other is less qualified to provide this help.
The giver risks not receiving credit for her assistance when the task is successfully completed. She, too, might prefer to reserve her best contributions for those she trusts, even though they might be in less need of help.
Both reactions represent a huge mis-allocation of organisational resources, and result, not from a lack of skill or expertise, but simply a lack of intra-organisational trust. Team building is pointless unless one first builds the team members’ trust in each other.