8 Tips for Building Team Trust

Aug 30, 2013
5 Min Read

Trust is a key element of a high performing team. When team members trust each other, energy and resources are spent on productive collaboration rather than doubt, suspicion, and interpersonal conflict. It's also a whole lot more fun and much less stressful to work in an environment with people who are consistent and sincerely care for each other. Here are the ingredients to make that happen:

1. Don’t allow issues to go unresolved.

They will crop up again, only next time it will be with more intensity, a richer history, and with ever more complications.

2. Address nonverbal communications.

Especially in a group setting, people say things without even uttering a word. Addressing ‘loud’ nonverbals communicates two things. It shows you are paying attention and that the person’s thoughts and opinions matter to you. It also discourages negative nonverbals over time. Negative nonverbal signals that go unaddressed (eye-rolling, etc.) have the potential to undermine trust and create relationship conflict within the team.

3. Express intentions.

Our behaviors are observable but our intentions are not. Thus, intentions may get lost along the way, especially during difficult situations or during conflict. Take care to express your intentions along with your behaviors. When addressing problems with others’ behavior, give an opportunity for that person to express their intentions. It will make them feel understood and calm down their defensiveness instinct quite a bit.

4. Recognize competence publicly.

When you speak highly about someone in front of others, the person receiving the recognition will appreciate that you're paying attention, they will feel more connected to you, and they will feel like you understand them. This does wonders for building trust. The group who hears it will also trust this person a little more after becoming aware of a capability they may have not otherwise known about that person. Do this regularly and the trust on the team will grow quickly.

5. Eliminate blame.

In a toxic environment, it is so easy to point the finger at someone else and identify what they did wrong. This is because, more often than not, everyone has done something wrong. Create a culture where blame is pointless and not tolerated. Individuals can start to do their part by assuming responsibility, apologizing, and commit to never assigning fault again.

6. Open the opportunities for self-awareness.

Are people on the team clueless about the impact of their own actions? If so, it is an excellent opportunity to build self-awareness, which is something that benefits all of us as human beings both in our personal and professional lives. The options for building this muscle are endless; assessments, coaching, and introspection are among some of the tools and techniques available.

7. Ensure there is respect.

Respect is the foundation of trust. With respectful communication, you can build trust, and with trust you can get to a place where you can discuss anything without fear of breaking down the relationship or stifling the ultimate productivity of the team.

8. Question the opportunity for manipulation, competing, and winning.

Any behavior that seeks to result in one of these is not going to be positive or productive in terms of building trust. Seek to eliminate a climate where this is tolerated at all costs.

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