How can you build trust in your team? Although we never think about it, trust is the single ingredient that makes life livable. We can always go to bed, TRUSTING that the ground will still be beneath our feet when we awake. That our home will still be in the city where we live and the sun will be blazing from the sky come tomorrow morning. If we had to wonder about the reliability of the things we take for granted every single minute of the day, we would go mad. Not having to question the dependability of things, allows us to go forward with living.
The same is true at a deeper level. Trust is the foundation that holds together the fabrics of all relationships in any society. Regardless of whether these are transactional, professional or personal relationships. Knowing that a dollar has the same value to the merchant and the bank, as it does to you, allows you to trade freely. Upon our first meeting someone, we evaluate them to try and discover what sort of person they are, or what they are capable of, because trust is so fundamental to our ability to relate to others.
This is why it is critical that organizational teams be built around the core ideology of trust and security. Confidence in the character and intentions of other group members is an absolute requirement for team success. Where this ingredient is lacking or not present in sufficient degrees, the prevailing atmosphere within the group will be one of suspicion, caution and dissatisfaction. Nothing stifles team spirit like distrust. Nothing saps its energy like internal strife distrust creates.
The Value of Trust
Trust is indispensable to your team for the following reasons:
  • Greater Creativity: People can only be loyal to others who offer them loyalty in return. The sense of security people experience in a safe environment allows them to be their true selves. Teams with a culture of openness will have more creative because people don’t have to worry about how others will react to their ideas.

  • Positively Impacts Team Dynamics: Trust has a positive impact on the internal workings of a group and improves the ability of members to synergize with one another. Team members that trust each other instinctively recognize and cover for each other’s weaknesses and lapses.

  • Improved Performance: Commitment is more important than competence. A competent person in an unsafe environment may not do more than his role requires. On the other hand, committed people may perform beyond the level of their competence because they are willing to do more to solve problems.

  • Quicker Conflict Resolution: Every group has its own difficulties, but in groups that are pervaded by distrust, differences may fester to the point where team members are unable to work together. People will let go of personal injuries if they know other’s actions are not the result of malicious intent. Trouble makes trusting teams stronger, but it breaks distrusting teams.

  • More Productive Brainstorming & Collaboration: Trust allows team members to freely and fully consider the ideas or feelings of others without reading an ulterior motive into their words. If people feel there is a hidden agenda to someone’s suggestions, they will never give it their support, no matter how brilliant the idea is.

How to Build Trust
Trust cannot be bought, it is earned. Contracts and agreements don’t create trust. As a matter of fact, they exist to protect people in the event that the other person’s words cannot be trusted. Therefore a team leader must go beyond the contents of the contract and team charter to build trust into the fabrics of the group. The following are ways to build or improve trust.
  • Protect Your Reputation: People will believe what they hear from others about you or your organization, more than they will believe what you say. And the foundation of trust is reputation.

  • Confidentiality: Keep people’s confidence. Do not let what is a confidential discussion or information become common knowledge.

  • Take Action: Never ignore trouble. People hate confrontation, so they will often allow conflicts to go unresolved. This just allows resentment to build up. Confront trouble without blame or anger.

  • Talk With People: Where necessary, have all team members discuss problems and never be abrupt with such meetings. Afterwards, speak with the principal persons involved and help them to understand other’s difference.

  • Keep Rules Universal: Do not be selective in your application of rules. Some team members will try to exploit a leader’s weaknesses or inconsistencies to cause trouble. Don’t allow such opportunities.

  • Collective Decision Making: Involve people in decisions that will affect their work or position within the group. If people help make a decision, they won’t feel alienated or victimized.

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