Professional relationships, just like all other relationships in the world, are based on mutual trust. To quote Brian Tracy “The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led — is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”
Lack of trust and too much fear are the root cause of the most common modern business problems – stress, poor performance, lack of commitment, high turnover, burnout… to name a few. And if you’ve ever worked on a team, or managed one, you know that team trust is one of the crucial ingredients for success. Without trust, the team isn’t really a team. It’s only a group of individuals working together. No matter how skilled or capable these people are, they might never achieve their full potential as a team if they don’t build team trust.
So can you help your team build the trust needed to become strong, cohesive and highly productive?
What is Team Trust and Why Is It Important?
There are many definitions of trust. But, at its core, trust is about relying on someone’s character, ability, strength, or truth to do the right thing. In the workplace, having team trust means that people are willing to rely on each other to take responsibility and do the right thing. To be accountable as a team and have each other’s backs when faced with unpredictable challenges and obstacles.
Building trust in teams leads to the creation of a cohesive team. First, it provides a sense of a safe environment where team members feel they can openly and honestly express their opinions and ideas, and be vulnerable. Without vulnerability, team members are reserved and keep ideas and insightful questions to themselves. Next, they become comfortable to exchange constructive feedback. That helps them examine ideas and stop the bad ones from happening. However, it’s important that feedback doesn’t turn into personal attacks.
Lastly, trust allows people feel confident to give and accept constructive feedback. Then, team members are willing to take certain risks and even make mistakes. Because now, they view it as a growth opportunity.
Building Trust in Teams
There’s no doubt that trust is important. It is essential for knowledge sharing. And when you get the team to work together towards a common goal, the result provides innovation, better collaboration, and productivity. But it takes time to develop. Luckily, several strategies can help you create a culture of trust within your team.
Frequent and Honest Communication
Open, clear and transparent communication is essential for building trust. Especially when you are building a new team. It is essential that they establish a clear and transparent system that will enable them to share information and knowledge. One way to make this possible is to use project management software or team collaboration tools, such as Kanban. These enable transparent sharing of up-to-date information with everyone.
Encourage people to openly share ideas, and give and receive constructive feedback
When people feel safe to communicate openly, they also feel confident to share their ideas and insights. Team members should feel safe enough to say what they mean and stand up for what they believe in. But it’s important that everyone feels heard and their ideas taken into consideration. Then, the team should go over these ideas, discuss them and provide constructive feedback. But the feedback shouldn’t turn into personal criticism or placing blame. Because that will lower morale, shake up the team’s trust in each other, and lowers productivity.
Lead by Example
Another important ingredient for building team trust is strong leadership and good people management. A good leader fosters team trust and respect through encouraging peer-to-peer support, sharing and learning. But more importantly, showing people that you fully trust your team. Not only to members of their team, but colleagues and their managers. Moreover, if you, as a team leader or team member, notice there are problems and trust issues, make sure you address them properly. If you don’t, they will create division and other hurtful behavior which eventually will ripple through the organization.
Prerequisites for Building Team Trust
Trusting people you don’t know is challenging. So leaving a positive impression and showing you have genuinely good intentions can greatly help. But building trust also relies on three fundamental aspects.
Shared Personal Values
For people to trust one another, especially when they don’t know each other, they need to be assured they share the same values. When they do, they can easily agree on many things and find common ground when faces with obstacles. But if a team members is prioritizing values differently, the mismatch could prevent trust from developing.
Equality and Fairness
It’s normal for some team members to hold higher positions than others. But if some of those higher-ranking members is using their rank to influence or overrule decisions, assign blame, or try to take control over the workflow, trust will not develop in that team. Working as a team requires equal treatment and fairness for all team members. And when that does not exist, you will be dealing with a group of people put to work together, not a team.
The last, but not least prerequisite for building team trust the perceived competence. For a team to be productive, team members need to know they can rely on each other, and know each individual is competent enough to finish their job correctly. Knowing that you don’t need to second-guess someone’s actions creates a strong sense of team trust.
No Team Without Trust
Team trust is the key ingredient that will turn a group of people into a team working hard toward the same goal. Teams that trust each other will more easily form strong bonds and become an effective, cohesive group. And this group, can communicate more openly, work faster and more efficiently and accomplish everything they set out to do, and more.
The featured image for this post is from CSG Raft Gear Ltd.