How to Build Team Trust
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In today’s fast-paced world where information is quickly shared, working well together as a team is critical. A good team knows how to look at a problem or an opportunity and use different skills, tools, people, and resources to get things done. To make a team work well, everyone needs to trust each other, talk openly, and have strong relationships.
In this episode we’ll explore the critical importance of team trust, the things that will erode trust and how to build team trust if the trust level on your team is low.
When a team trusts one another there is:
1. Enhanced Collaboration.
Team members feel comfortable sharing ideas with one another and collaborate without fear of judgment.
2. Increased Productivity.
Productivity builds on collaboration. We can do more work that matters when we work together. Also, teams with high trust levels tend to be more efficient, as there is less time wasted on micromanagement and worrying about what others are doing or not doing.
3. Open Communication.
Trust encourages open and honest communication, thus leading to better problem-solving and decision-making processes. Teams that trust one another do not tend to get bogged down with unaddressed conflict. Because there’s trust there is an assumption of good intent so it’s easier to address things that are not working or creating confusion.
4. Higher Morale.
Trust contributes to a positive work culture, boosting team morale and job satisfaction. When conflict is dealt with as it arises, when we assume positive intent, when we feel safe to share our thoughts and ideas, and we are able to do our best work, we likely feel like we are in our dream job – and if this is your experience you just might be in a dream job.
5. Risk-Taking and Innovation.
Trust empowers team members to take calculated risks and be more innovative, knowing they have the support and trust of their colleagues. Many companies are realizing that to stay competitive in their market they need to be on the cutting edge of new innovations. That will only happen in an environment where is safe to make mistakes, to try and fail and continue to be validated for effort and ingenuity.
Now, if your team members can’t seem to work together without coming to you about some conflict they cannot resolve on their own, if they are bogged down in inefficiencies, if the team is regularly dealing with sour moods and there is overall a lack of initiative or interest to try something new, there is low trust on the team.
And you as the leader need to intervene right away. Let’s take a look at what could be getting in the way.
Obstacles When Attempting to Build Team Trust:
1. Lack of Communication.
Poor communication or lack of transparent communication can hinder the development of trust. I know “communication” is a big overarching umbrella, but chances are your team is throwing up red flags that they are not getting the information they need to do their best work.
2. Inconsistent Leadership.
Inconsistency in leadership actions or decisions can create confusion and erode trust among team members.
Are your words and actions in alignment?
Have you set crystal clear expectations for yourself and your team and communicated them?
Are there inconsistencies amongst the leadership team of your organization as a whole?
Create consistency so your team knows where they stand and what they are expected to do.
3. Unresolved Conflict.
Ignoring or mishandling conflicts within the team can lead to a breakdown in trust. Conflict avoidance only creates more conflict. I’ll get more into this in a bit.
Excessive control or micromanagement can convey a lack of trust in team members’ abilities. As leaders, when we micromanage, we unwittingly train our team not to make decisions or take actions without us. The team becomes trained not to trust their own judgment.
5. Unfair Treatment.
Perceived unfairness in resource distribution, recognition, or decision-making can undermine trust.
Build Team Trust When Trust is Low:
1. Lead by Example.
Demonstrate trustworthiness through your actions. Be transparent, keep promises, and admit mistakes. Get 10% out of your comfort zone because vulnerability is the currency of trust.
2. Promote Open Communication.
Encourage and appreciate honest and open communication within the team. Address any concerns promptly. Create a culture that values feedback. That means acknowledging feedback, taking time to reflect and act on the feedback.
3. Set Clear Expectations.
Clearly communicate expectations and goals, ensuring that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. I cannot underscore this enough. Explicit and clearly communicated expectations solves most ills. And, because there is so much potential for misunderstandings when it comes to expectations, it’s something we need to actively work on and know that we will get better at with time.
4. Invest in Team Building.
Facilitate team-building activities to strengthen relationships and create a sense of camaraderie among team members. Don’t dismiss the importance of icebreakers and activities that allow team members to get to know each other better as people. You will get a return on your investment when you make time for team building. As trust is built collaboration and efficiencies will follow.
5. Address Conflict Proactively.
Deal with conflicts promptly and constructively. Encourage resolution through open dialogue and mediation if necessary. If you are uncomfortable with conflict, put this on your list of skills to build immediately. Conflict is a part of being human and doesn’t have to be something we look at negatively.
Conflict is an opportunity for conversation and greater understanding.
Also, be aware if any members of your team are conflict-avoidant. Gain the ability to role model for your team that conflict is safe, constructive and not something we need to be afraid of.
6. Provide Recognition and Feedback.
Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of team members and provide constructive feedback to help individuals grow and improve.
7. Empower Team Members.
Trust your team members to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Empowerment fosters a sense of responsibility and commitment.
8. Cultivate a Positive Work Culture.
Foster a positive work environment where collaboration, respect, and support are valued.
To build team trust, and maintain it, is an ongoing process that requires commitment and effort from leaders. By addressing obstacles and actively working to enhance trust within the team, leaders can create a more productive and harmonious work environment.
As always, I hope this was of value to you and here’s to your success!
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