Trust is part of human nature. As humans, we want to feel connected to others. As a part of this relationship, we want people to trust us, and we want to trust them. These mutual relationships help us feel valued by those around us.
Not only does trust help us form better relationships, but it also makes it easier to get things done!
Think about what humans have accomplished through trust. We have build incredible feats of engineering, made it to space, and invented the internet. If people did not trust each other, none of these accomplishments would be possible.
Even in the workplace, trust corresponds with economic success.
People who work in a high-trust environment report:
- Having 106 percent more energy while doing their job
- Being 76 percent more engaged
- Feeling 74 percent less stress
- Taking 13 percent fewer sick days
On risk-based teams, members have to know that they can depend on each other.
Trust has been shown to boost team performance, and the more interdependent a team is, the more trust matters. Interestingly, trust BETWEEN team members correlates with performance, even when researchers consider potential influencing factors such as “trust in the team leader” and even when “trust in the team leader” is lower than desired.
To build an ideal risk-based team, therefore, you need to work to cultivate trust between the members of the team. Here is what you need to know and how to nurture this valuable characteristic.
Why trust is so critical
Trust can build stronger relationships among team members, and it plays a critical role in creating a healthy atmosphere. When you successfully build trust between team members, it impacts nearly all of the tasks that the team tackles.
Here are just a few of the reasons why trust remains so important to a successful team:
- Team members need to feel comfortable asking questions and making proposals in front of the others in the group. Speaking up in this way makes people vulnerable to a degree. When a group lacks trust, the members do not feel as comfortable putting themselves, and their ideas, out in front of the group for critique.
- People need to be able to provide constructive feedback to each other. People tend to not feel comfortable providing feedback if they worry about what the other people will think or wonder if they might inadvertently make someone feel uncomfortable or insulted.
- Similarly, team members also need to be able to accept feedback. Teams will not be able to reach their full potential if they cannot help each other grow and improve. Team members must be able to trust that the feedback provided is helpful. They must accept this feedback and evaluate it objectively instead of becoming defensive.
When teams lack this valuable trust, you will see a variety of harmful aspects arise. This includes high turnover rates, a rise in damaging office politics, and competition between teams and team members instead of collaboration.
Nurturing trust within the group helps to convince the different members to work together and view each other positively, creating an improve work environment.
What we see when trust flourishes
When trust flourishes on a risk-based team, members improve their ability to collaborate and work together. We see:
- Team members turning to each other for help. They do not feel concerned about losing potential standing within the group if they need to ask for help. In a trusting environment, they feel as though they can let down their guards more, thus leading to improved collaboration.
- Team members know they can trust each other not to throw each other under the proverbial bus. They view each other as being on the same side. This means that if something goes wrong on a project, they will work together to find a solution, rather than constantly trying to outpace each other.
- Disagreements are also solved with integrity. Since they can trust the intentions of each other, it becomes easier to work towards a resolution for the disagreement. This encourages even more collaboration and allows constructive conflict to flourish.
- When team members know that they can trust each other to work together, they also tend to be more equal in their division of responsibilities and the sharing of information. Team members will not have to worry about anyone trying to rid themselves of the less enjoyable aspects of the project, and nor will anyone try to hoard all the most visible pieces for themselves. They understand that the project reflects on each of them.
- The team members will also focus on the group, rather than just their own interests. They will look towards the success of the team, rather than trying to advance themselves within the organization.
How to nurture trust
Teams that want to nurture trust can follow a few suggestions.
Step 1. Select people that you can trust will do their jobs well.
While this might sound obvious, some businesses will make team selection decisions based on politics. Focus on making decisions based on your knowledge of work ethic and skills. Team members will find it easier to trust each other when they know that the other members will complete their tasks well.
Step 2. Align goals and values.
A mismatched team where some people have no problem working late, while others leave at five promptly, will result in feelings of mistrust. Make sure all the team members are on the same page with their work values so that the team can work well together.
Step 3. Ensure that all the team members receive equal treatment.
Team members need to know that their opinions and ideas will receive equal consideration. Create an environment where people feel free to share their ideas. While a team leader will help keep everyone on task, all members should be viewed as equally important contributors.
Step 4. Give people space to share their thoughts on the team culture.
To create a healthy environment, ask team members for feedback about how they view the team culture. By giving people freedom to express their feelings, you let them know that they do have the power to influence their team culture. To help people feel comfortable with this system, you may have to give a specific time slot during the initial meetings to discuss team culture.
Step 5. Celebrate accomplishments and do not harp on mistakes.
Mistakes happen, even for the most seasoned risk-based professional. Remember the value of team members who can trust that the rest of their team will not, “throw them under the bus”. Work together as a team to solve errors, without focusing on how the mistake lies with a specific team member.
At the same time, celebrate accomplishments and victories. This will build a pleasant team atmosphere, which will be more conducive towards trust.
This does not mean, however, that a routinely poorly performing team member cannot be removed from the team. Someone who regularly makes errors that cost the team should likely be removed to avoid resentment from team members. Just remember to have the primary focus lie on building a positive, trusting team atmosphere.
Step 6. Value team members as people.
Team members know when leaders and managers view them as little more than pawns or dollar signs. Set policies that make it clear the value each employee has as a person. While some overtime or weekend work might be unavoidable, discuss it with your team to determine a schedule that fits everyone. Listen to their ideas. Treat them as invaluable members of a group.
Step 7. Engage everyone in planning exercises and meetings for the team.
Team leaders who regularly meet privately and then just give instructions or ‘to-do’ lists to the other members of the group will not earn the trust of the rest of the team. Instead, involve everyone in the planning process and keep them engaged about the project.
Step 8. Have a system in place to resolve disagreements.
Disagreements will arise when you have a group of people working together on a project. Different personalities, different experiences, and different perspectives can all lead to conflict.
Having a system in place to help team members navigate these disagreements can help maintain an environment of trust. People will talk out potential problems and uncover resolutions that work best for all involved. Since they resolve the dispute themselves, there will be fewer opportunities for hard feelings or ideas about favoritism to arise.
Trust is a critical component of successful risk-based teams. Groups that learn how to nurture this trait will build stronger teams, ready to tackle their next project. Consider how you can begin to build more trust on your team.