How to build trust in teams

Laughing businesswoman at meetingLet’s be honest – if you don’t have trust in a team you don’t really have a team at all – all you have is a group of people working in the same area or reporting to the same manager.

Without trust, people tend to work for themselves, cautiously eyeing others around them, holding on to information and not letting their guard down. It doesn’t feel good and it’s not an effective way for a team to operate. Imagine a football team that worked like that, where the players didn’t trust the others with their passes – and everyone would run for the ball at the same time. Well, it just wouldn’t work, would it? And it doesn’t work in the workplace either.

Lack of trust is not just uncomfortable, it is costly too. Without it team members’ collaboration will be limited which creates inefficiencies and is likely to impact the customer experience negatively too. And all of this affects the bottom line.

So if you’re serious about wanting to do a great job, you also need to create trust with your team members, regardless of whether you are the team’s leader or one of the members.

Trust can’t be demanded, it can only be earned – it happens as a result of your actions and behaviours.

Here are some simple yet very effective ways of creating trust:

  • Get to know each other. It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know, so it all starts here. Encourage team members to talk to each. Spend time together that isn’t just all about work; get to know each other beyond the work personas. Talk about background and interests for example – take a genuine interest in each other.
  • Share something about yourself, open up. When you trust others with information about you, you are indeed showing trust – and by showing trust, you’re more likely to receive it back. Talk about a challenge you had and overcame, a disappointment that you learned from, something you are proud of – or anything else that shows that you are opening up to them.
  • Decide to invest in building relationships. See them as the crucial part of business they are; no one works alone, so we are all dependent on the relationships we are able to build and the trust that comes with it. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to build your relationship with your team and other important stakeholders where trust is key.
  • Have a great “say/do ratio”! Keep your promises. This may seem pretty obvious, but as trust is something that’s earned, our actions and our ability to honour our commitments, to do what we said we would do, matter greatly when it comes to trust.

Behaviours matter too, it not just what you do but how you do it. So listen, be interested, show courage and empathy, be open and transparent – and create trust.

If there’s not 100% trust in the team you’re in, start building more trust today to make you and the team even more successful.

mandy elisabet featuredAbout the authors

Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn, award-winning authors of ”The Team Formula”.

Their new book ”Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions” is out now, published by Financial Times International.

Praise for ”Leading Teams: ”This book is a 21st-century guide on how to build a world-class team. I highly recommend it” Steve Siebold, Founder, Mental Toughness University, Florida USA.


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