5 Ways to Build Trust in a Team
Missed deadlines, miscommunication issues, and avoidable work conflicts are the consequences of a lack of trust in the workplace. Therefore, as a team leader, you must understand how to build a culture of trust in your team.
Besides the negative impact of a lack of trust, numerous studies show that high-trust workplaces lead to more financially successful businesses.
The Great Place to Work Institute establishes links between trust levels and your business’s bottom line and between trust and employee retention, innovation, and engagement.
In other words, it pays to build trust in a team.
The pandemic has changed the workplace in many unalterable ways. According to the International Workplace Group (IWC), remote, flexible, or hybrid working is here to stay, with more than 50% of the global workforce working away from the office for more than half the week.
With teams interacting virtually, a working relationship among colleagues based on trust is more important than ever as businesses navigate employees’ shifting expectations. Leaders have more responsibility to build lasting relationships with their teams based on building team trust.
So, how can you build this trust in your team?
How to build trust in a team
Have you ever worked in a team without trust? Without a strong team structure built upon trust, each worker is an individual, keeping to their own responsibilities without regard for the progress of the collective group. How can you ensure that your team flourishes together? Let’s take a look at the things you can do in the workplace to build this all-important trust.
1 – Building trust by leading by example
If employees can’t trust you as a team leader, there is little chance of the team working collectively and cohesively. That’s why you must lead the way in modelling what it means to be a trustworthy team member while also demonstrating trust in others.
So, what does this modelling look like?
It means keeping your promises – being on time for scheduled meetings and calls, hitting your own deadlines, being clear on when and why you may be absent or uncontactable.
Setting these expectations through your behaviour – and positively following through – quickly builds trust and establishes the tone of the whole group.
This has always been true but is especially relevant to virtual working. Without that regular face-to-face interaction, it’s vital to lead by example in the virtual workplace, as this dictates how employees are expected to act.
Having a team leader that adheres to an established framework for task completion goes a long way toward fostering trust.
2 – Communication is key
Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. The phrase is credited to famed basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. You’ll find a plethora of platitudes that demonstrate the importance of open communication in building trust, from broad fields such as the sporting world and relationship advice columns to detailed instructions on ensuring a well-trained, obedient pet.
Nevertheless, it should be evident that clear and concise open discussion and knowledge sharing in the workplace helps to strengthen trust within an organization.
There are two elements to communication for a team leader.
The first is on you – make sure you share information broadly and transparently. Give regular and clear updates on projects, ensuring you communicate the why’s instead of just the what’s. Team members prefer to understand the reasoning behind their assigned tasks – providing the motivation for work tasks can contribute toward a high trust environment and is in the best interests of the whole team.
Also, communicate any changes in the company’s direction and the broader goals. As the team leader, this should come from you. It shows that you value their insight while also encouraging their emotional investment in the long-term objectives of the team.
The second element of communication as a team leader is ensuring that you are all ears, ready to listen and truly understand your employee’s concerns. Communication is a two-way street, and team members should feel that you are approachable and will allow time to hear their thoughts, concerns, stresses, or suggestions.
When you include team members by sharing information in a team meeting, they see that their opinions and feelings are valued. This creates a trusting environment where they are more willing to share, leading to a reciprocal loop of employee engagement.
3 – Bond as a virtual team
We’ve all been there – working with a colleague you can genuinely refer to as a friend makes the shift that little bit more enjoyable.
As a team leader, you can’t take it for granted that these personal relationships develop organically. This is especially true in virtual workplaces, where casual chats over a cup of coffee aren’t possible, and the notion of a water-cooler moment is almost redundant. Your remote team needs to make these meaningful bonds to build mutual trust.
We’re social creatures, performing best when we feel part of a group – and the workplace is no different.
It is your responsibility to provide opportunities to develop interpersonal connections between your team members. These successful team-bonding activities that include members of the leadership help encourage collaboration, break down barriers inhibiting progress, and foster a genuine sense of community in the workplace.
Ultimately, being part of a community means trusting the other members in that space – whether that be a household, a family, a friendship group, or a workplace.
So, how can this be achieved in your team?
The first step is to encourage team members to view colleagues as people – with all the baggage that entails!
Think of situations that allow people to share their personal stories, things that are going on in their lives, their hobbies, and interests. By humanising each other, you create an atmosphere of empathy and understanding.
However, be careful – any invitation to share must remain sensitively proposed – you shouldn’t shame participants into sharing if they are not comfortable doing so.
The second step is to organise more formal team-bonding activities – fun events that serve as social occasions while also potentially serving other purposes of training or company-related goals.
Struggling to think of virtual team-bonding activities? We have plenty of innovative and tailor-made solutions for your team.
Take the stress out of planning memorable team-building events – let us do it for you.
4 – Priceless praise from the leadership team
In our most base form, we humans are pretty simple creatures – we like to be told that we’re good, that we’ve done a stellar job, and that we are valued, productive members of our community.
Therefore, if you want to build trust in your team, it’s vital to learn to give meaningful praise to your team members.
Good leaders do this in the following ways:
- Recognise excellent performance whenever credit is due.
- Be specific – a general ‘well done’ or ‘good job’ won’t cut it as people tend to see through a blanket compliment.
- Give praise regardless of role or status within the group – if a junior team member has performed their small task within a more extensive project beyond expectations, praise them.
- Give praise publicly with clear evidence – don’t just save this for the one on ones. This ensures transparency of progress and inspires all team members to strive for excellence in their tasks.
- Go one step further and encourage praise between team members. You are not the gatekeeper of what constitutes a good job – allow opportunities for open communication within the workweek for employees to highlight the excellent work of others.
When done skillfully, these actions can build trust across a team as deserved credit is publicly shared between peers, allowing for complete transparency.
Again, we’re all human – we get a kick out of that moment of meaningful recognition for a good job.
However, a further benefit to this atmosphere of open and honest praise is that you have a readymade framework should the opposite be the case.
If team members need to hear frank negative feedback, you have set the precedent of praise, and they should be willing to receive negative comments professionally.
Giving meaningful praise and positive reinforcement is a learned skill that takes time to develop. However, investing in this skill can go a long way to developing trust in a team.
5 – Empower employees
Finally, high-trust companies show trust through investment in their people. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to help guide and develop your team members on their learning journey.
You can do this in the following ways:
- Empower employees with a growth mindset – the attitude of a lifelong learner. This involves encourgaing professional development, instilling in employees the desire to engage in various courses. Note that this means you will also need to give them time to do this.
- Demonstrate you care about the whole person – that means taking the time to personal development, too, in terms of their emotional wellbeing at work. This shows you want them to be the best they can be in the workplace.
- Take on the mantle of a mentor, creating opportunities wherever possible.
By taking these steps, you build a bridge of trust between you and your team. The whole team are grateful for the opportunities to learn and further their careers.
But, it’s a balancing act
While this level of support is valued by modern workers, there also needs to be clear boundaries. Strike a balance – you must also allow a degree of autonomy for your team members.
Many workers have nightmare stories of the meddling micro-manager. Rooted at the heart of these complaints is the betrayal of a lack of trust from the team leader. The reasoning is simple – they won’t leave me to do my job, so they must not trust me to do it.
Allowing team members to get on with their respective projects without your interference and interruptions is key to building trust. After all, they have presumably trained to do their job, so why not let them get on with it?
Giving this autonomous wiggle room will often allow for innovative new approaches to productivity.
Getting the right mix of offering helpful input while avoiding unwanted meddlesome instructions is a delicate balancing act.
When you empower employees by providing opportunities to learn and improve, you demonstrate your trust in them. Yet, ultimately, you also need to know when to step back and keep your involvement to a minimum, showing your faith in their team performance.
MakingTeams is here to help
So, how do you build trust and credibility in your team? We have established 5 clear ways to do this as a leader.
Bonding as a team is one of the vital steps that every team leader needs to consider – we know that this is one way that teams can develop those personal relationships so important when looking to establish trust in the workplace.
At MakingTeams, we want to help team leaders everywhere provide exciting and memorable team-building activities that go a long way to instilling this trust.
Check out our fully customisable, tailor-made virtual events that can be utilised to build trust, deliver training, and create great lasting memories all at the same time. Whatever your budget, requirements, or group size, we’re sure to have the right team building events for you.