Building trust on teams is foundational and requires the same amount of intentionality as building culture. Engagement increases sixfold when employees trust their organization’s leadership. And employees who trust their leaders are twice as likely to say they will be with their company one year from now. Below are 3 ways you can build trust on your team today.
Take advantage of “swift trust”
When a team first forms, trust levels are high (as long as there aren’t any previous negative work relationships). Lean into and leverage this swift trust—the feeling that “we’re in the same boat.” Two key actions to harness swift trust:
- Give props. Discuss each team member’s strengths. This lets each person know what they bring to the collective team table. It also helps everyone know their role on the team.
- Clarify team goals. Teams are assembled to achieve goals. Make sure everyone on the team knows the goal and understands their individual roles to help accomplish it. If you don’t, you may undermine the trust reservoir before your team gets started on its first project.
Assign roles, acknowledge strengths, and give your team tasks to complete together. The objective is to create a successful foundational shared experience that becomes part of the team’s long-term shared identity.
Ask and respond
Getting to know each other builds our understanding of one another and increases trust. This helps our brain default to giving someone “the benefit of the doubt.”
The easiest way to know someone is to ask. Build this into the team DNA and you’ll build trust on your team. Spend 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of your team), at the front-end of your team meetings, to ask about each team member’s life outside of work. This signals you value your team members as people, not as production units.
Some questions to ask:
- Did you do anything fun over the weekend? If so, what?
- What are your summer plans?
- How is your family doing?
- Does anybody have a good podcast or book recommendation?
After you ask, follow up. This is equally important. It shows you listened and that this wasn’t a check the box exercise. If someone shares they are training for a marathon, ask how it’s going and set a reminder on your calendar to send a good luck note prior to the race. If someone admits they are feeling squeezed by caregiving duties, find a team solution that helps (e.g. move team meeting to a better time, shift responsibilities for a short period of time, etc.). The more you demonstrate to your team members that you see them as humans before employees, the more they will trust you and, in turn, trust each other.
Walk the walk
People model their leader’s behavior. They will devote time to the actions and corresponding results, they see celebrated.
Make sure you model and celebrate the behaviors you want your team members to have. Below are tangible ways to build trust by modeling trust-building behavior:
- Be ready. This communicates that you value people’s time. Get to meetings early. A side benefit will be the chance to chit-chat with the team members who also show up early.
- Be credible. Do what you say you’re going to do. It won’t take long for team members to realize that your word is trustworthy. On the flip side, they will notice if you don’t.
- Be approachable. The easiest way? Make sure you are available to your team during agreed-upon office hours. Demonstrating approachability will make your team members feel valued because you took the time to be available to them and for them.
- Be authentic. Do you truly believe that other people can be trusted? If not, you may need to explore your past experiences and how these may bias your current relationship to your team.
Leading a team in today’s workplace requires trust. The truth is that people want to feel like they are being treated like human beings and not merely a cog in the organizational wheel. We’ve highlighted 3 ways to build trust on your teams. The increased trust between you and your team also improves engagement and belonging. It spills over and grows trust between team members, leading to improved productivity and quality.