I recently read a fantastic blog from Rachael Robertson who is an Antarctica explorer discussing the difference between harmony and respect in your team.

The blog is an excellent read on a number of counts. The overall theme around looking for and building respect in your team where everyone plays their role, delivers outcomes and challenges each other is strong in comparison to the alternative of having artificial harmony and Pleasantville that does not benefit anyone including the individuals. Given that the context of this is around a nine month expedition to Antarctica with 19 team members, it really brings home the importance of setting expectations around how the team operates effectively together.

One particular concept that was highlighted in the blog was one of the key rules that they had within the team which was the No Triangle rule. This rule worked on the basis that when a team member had an issue with another team member in the expedition, they went to them direct and first rather than having sideline conversations with others. It promoted a strong focus on encouraging the direct conversations and culture of respect for each other. It prevented the often toxic situations that occur where there becomes a lack of trust in the team that impacts on productivity, cohesion and effectiveness. It also led to strong levels of trust and morale within the team over the 9 month journey which was critical in ensuring the expedition was successful.

When I read this, I saw immediate applicability to the projects, organisations, management teams and boards I work with. A simple but really impactful rule that would prevent or at least minimise the damaging background conversations or “opinion shopping” that Rachael calls it that take place too often. The conversations should be with the people that you have the issue with rather than with others in the team. It would clear up a lot of issues that fester, build trust that drives speed and effectiveness and also respect. I look forward to seeing more Triangle free work zones!