How Teams Build Trust

November 18, 2022

Team trust is an important factor in ensuring success of any project. On projects with no team trust, people can be reluctant to share information or resources because they are not sure that person will keep what they tell them private.

This could cause delays or even cancellation of the project, as people feel like they cannot rely on others for help.

It also creates a feeling of distrust, which can eventually lead to poor performance and turnover. Because people do not feel safe sharing information, efficiency drops and deadlines are missed.

Project teams need to have at least some level of trust to succeed. Without it, people may try to protect themselves by keeping secrets, limiting access, and/or quitting.

As leader of the team, you must create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing information and trusting one another. This requires consistently showing your commitment to helping the group achieve its goals and being aware of how individuals in the team are performing.

There are several strategies that can be used to build team trust, including encouraging open discussion, using appropriate language, listening to and acknowledging comments, promoting collaboration, supporting each other, respecting differences, etc.

But what if there’s just no way to restore trust? What then? Is the goal simply to push through and put up with the lack of confidence until things get better or is it time to start looking elsewhere for employment?

Fortunately, there are cases when it is possible to save the relationship.

Make eye contact

how teams build trust

A couple of years ago, I had the incredible privilege to coach one of the top professional sports teams in the country! While coaching this team, I learned an important lesson about trust.

As part of my job, I would meet with various members of the organization to discuss business matters and personal life goals. Sometimes these meetings were for just a few minutes, while other times it could be longer.

One thing that always struck me as funny was when some people would not make eye contact. They would look down or away from me when we spoke, making it difficult to tell if they were listening or not. It is very important to make eye contact with someone you want to listen to you, so try practicing that today!

Making eye contact shows others that you are interested in them and their ideas, and it creates an open conversation. This can help strengthen relationships at work, which is what matters most in the workplace.

Be consistent

how teams build trust

Consistency is one of the most important things to build trust with others. When you are consistently good, people will believe in your ability to do what you promise.

Consistently bad employees are sometimes ganged up on because nobody wants to be the first person to call them out or tell them they’re not performing their jobs.

But that doesn’t make it okay for them to keep doing their bad job every day! If someone is always missing deadlines, then chances are they won’t get the chance to prove themselves to anyone else.

That can hurt your project, and eventually your career.

So how does an employer know if an employee isn’t keeping his promises? There may be no way to know for sure unless something goes horribly wrong, but here are some warning signs that might indicate a lack of trustworthiness.

People may feel like they’ve been lied to or cheated before, and will hesitate to work with you until you earn back their trust. Or they may talk badly about you behind your back, which ends up hurting you more than helping you.

Interpersonal relationships are a valuable asset to any organization, so try to avoid destroying these as part of your employment.

If you’d like to see whether or not people develop trust around you, ask yourself these questions and evaluate yourself accordingly.

Be visible

how teams build trust

As mentioned before, trust is an internal process that happens within you – it’s your perception of someone or something. If people are not seeing the same thing about you as you see yourself, then they can’t fully rely on you to act in their best interest.

As a leader, you must make sure that everyone around you knows what to expect from you at all times. When things go wrong, there should be no mystery as to why; you made promises to them, and you failed to keep those promises.

By being honest and open with others, it creates an environment where people feel comfortable coming to you for help and advice. They know they can count on you, and will try hard to fulfill your demands because they want to stay close to you.

This isn’t only important as a leader, but also as a person who wants to succeed. Your colleagues and superiors look up to you, so if you're making promises to help them out and fail to follow through, it ends badly for them.

They may even question your reliability, and whether or not you deserve to have control over their work.

Be present

how teams build trust

Team members need to see you in person to trust you. As such, make every effort to be accessible to your colleagues. Whether it’s by phone or chat, keep in touch with everyone around the office.

This is especially important for those that work more than half of the day away from the workplace. For example, if someone else in the department does an extra shift, offer their schedule so they don’t feel like they are being left out.

If someone needs help with something at home, invite them into the team for lunch or ask if there is anything they could do to assist them. If possible, try to meet outside of the office too – perhaps go grab a coffee together after work.

Not only will this show others that you are available, but also that you care about the people around you. It demonstrates that you value their time and contribute to the teamwork atmosphere.

Teamwork isn’t always fun and sometimes things get heated, but unless you have zero face-to-face contact, I believe most people would agree that it’s worth it.

Be assertive

how teams build trust

A lot of people are not sure if they can trust you or your team because they do not know what to expect in terms of behavior. They may have experienced bad behaviors before, and thus no longer trust that person completely.

If this is something that bothers you for yourself or someone on your team, work on being more confident and assured with who your colleagues are. Make it clear by how you talk and behave that you believe in their ability to do their job well.

Be straightforward and dont hesitate to speak up when you need help. Your colleagues will feel more comfortable coming to you for advice and input instead of trying to figure out why you are asking them.

Listen more than you talk

how teams build trust

As mentioned before, your colleagues will put their trust in you when they believe that you care about them as people. They will also trust you to help them achieve their goals when they feel like you are open and willing to listen to them.

As a manager or leader, listening is one of the most important skills you can develop. When was the last time you listened to what someone had to say?

You probably tried it once or twice with a friend who needed some advice. Or maybe you listened to an album you have been hearing for weeks now.

But how often do you really invest in listening to others? I bet you never have. If you did, this article wouldn’t exist!

By investing in our own personal growth, we create a space for other people to do the same. In turn, they will trust us and try to grow within our presence.

Don’t be defensive

how teams build trust

In any relationship, trust is something that you have to work hard to build. It doesn’t just happen by accident. When it does though, there are some things you can do to make it last.

One of the biggest reasons relationships break down is because both people in the relationship feel like they are constantly defending themselves or proving their love for each other.

This is not a healthy way to function as a couple.

If one person feels like they are always having to defend how good they are as a person, or prove that they care about you, then what am I supposed to think? Is this person trying to tell me that I don’t matter to them?

It sets up a very tense environment where neither party feels comfortable. If you want to keep your bond strong, developing trust will take time but it is well worth it.

Be careful about asking if someone loves you- that question requires an answer with a yes or no. But building trust isn’t a one time thing, it is an ongoing process that may need repeated interactions between the two parties.

Instead of asking if someone cares about you, ask yourself if you show enough evidence that they do. Are they talking about you frequently? Do they look forward to being with you? All of these indicate that they enjoy spending time together and believe that you are at least semi-important in their life.

Be honest with your peers

how teams build trust

As a leader, you will need to be able to build trust with others continually. You must devote time to listening to what people have to say, and being straightforward and clear when responding.

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest factors in building team trust is being honest with them. It’s impossible to develop trust within a group of individuals if they feel that you are not telling the truth or putting their interests ahead of yours.

If there's something that you're trying to hide or distract someone else from talking about, it can hurt your team relationships as well as their confidence in you.

Whenever possible, should be open and upfront about things so that everyone knows what to expect and how to respond. This creates an environment where people can talk openly without fear of retribution or surprises.

"It takes a lot of work to gain people's respect, but it's always worth it." -Paden Bosley

Hillarie Jenkins said it very clearly during her TED Talk. "The best way to get through this world is by helping other people," she says, referring to all aspects of life.

Her advice applies to leadership too- help others succeed and earn their trust, and watch as those same people praise you for it. At the same time, be aware of potential pitfalls and avoid causing unnecessary stress or anxiety in the workplace.

Above everything, remain stable and consistent.

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