Every day I am grateful to work with a great team of colleagues. They are colleagues who trust each other to share important information, work collaboratively, challenge each other’s ideas to make sure that we are doing the best work we can, and they back each other up when needed. I needed that back-up relief immensely a couple of months ago when I experienced a TMJ flare that was so painful I couldn’t facilitate one of my leadership programs. My team graciously stepped in to take my place, setting aside other priorities to make sure that the program went off without a hitch. I trusted that they could do it well, and in turn, I found that our trust in each other grew from that experience.
As, Warren Bennis says, trust is the lubrication that makes organizations work. It’s the lifeblood of effective teams, because it provides a sense of safety so that teams can do their best work. When people feel safe, they are more likely to take risks and collaborate on projects. When people don’t feel safe or supported in their work team, they’ll spend their time and energy protecting themselves and their interests from potential threats.
But what can you do as a leader to build trust in your team and create a sense of safety? Here are a few tips from Mind Tools, that I’d like to share with you.
- Lead by example. Extend trust to your team members and show them that you trust them. Allow them to step in for you or take the lead on an important assignment.
- Communicate openly. Hold face-to-face meetings, both for the entire team and one-on-one meetings so that you can discuss progress on goals and any potential problems that arise. Set the stage for meaningful conversation and dialogue, and use problem solving discussions as an opportunity to build trust as team members learn from each other’s unique perspective. Most importantly, eliminate any hidden agendas.
- Know each other personally. Create opportunities in team meetings to get to know each other as people. In our team, we share “good news” at the start of meetings to learn about both professional or personal good news from our teammates. Set aside some time for team building throughout the year in retreats or staff events.
- Don’t place blame. We are all human, and at times, mistakes are made. Use these as opportunities to address the issue, create a solution and move forward, rather than placing blame.
What advice do you have for building team trust?