The Importance of Informality

How informal is your team? Do people follow social protocol, or display certain types of etiquette? If so, do all those little things and the extra seconds and thought cycles people spend on them move your company’s mission forward when aggregated? 

Informality is one of the most essential ingredients in enabling fluid exchanges of information between people. If you’re willing to set aside some of the established ways of operating socially, because you agree amongst yourselves that they’re unnecessary, you’re making yourself more vulnerable. It’s about being just a little unguarded. If you’re doing that all at the same time, together, that fosters trust.

And I don’t need to tell you that trust and free flowing information are crucial when a group of people need to pull together to solve difficult, exciting problems.

Informality is also a happy by-product. An output, not an input. Informality arises because of the other things you’re doing right. There are external signals associated with informality, especially in the corporate world, but just because an office lacks suits doesn’t mean the people in it trust one another. Don’t confuse the external signals with the internal substance.

The meaning of work, and the relationships we have with our coworkers are transforming fast. So what are you doing to foster trust?