Building Trust

Without Trust, you, your team, your orgnanisation have nothing. If trust has been lost, then it’s really hard to recover this. Trust is ingrained throughout an organisation and organisations with low trust are more likely to have less energy, lower productivity and engagement, more sick days and have a higher chance of burnout. So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • Show credit where it’s due

This is really important. It’s not just enough to say: Well done. You can build on this to say: Well done for X. It’s really helped our development of Y to add value to the project. Showing meaningful feedback is really important to team morale.

  • Be transparent

This is absolutely critical for me. You need to be transparent about everything: Working culture, salary and anything that can explain the “why” behind how the team should be work. As leaders, we can show our transparency through our strengths and weaknesses as well as looking at how the team can work most effectively together. You can do this by using the team’s strengths throughout the project. If you can have transparency, it can also help limit the office gossip and scuttlebutt.

  • Know when enough is enough

One of the common issues that I’ve seen with Project Managers who are burnt out is that they are trying for perfection. To be 100% / 110% when it is not entirely necessarily. I try to encourage the 80/20 principle with my teams to show the effort and what might needed to deliver the project.

  • Be the person that you want to work with

When you think about the people that you’re working with, what would your ideal colleague? Now, look closer to yourself. Are you behaving like a colleague that you’d want to work with? This could be as simple as a smile towards colleagues or not getting angry when you’re asked questions.

  • Say what you mean and follow through

To build trust, you need to be clear about what you’re doing/trying to achieve and you need to follow through on what you mean. When you are working with teams from different cultures, this becomes even more important. With new teams, this can be as simple as following through on promises: OK, i’ll arrange and send this out by the end of the day, or asking for more details and following up on the outcome.

  • Expectation Management is key

Expectation Management is the key to gaining trust as people need to learn what can be expected of them and what is important for team success. I’ve done this in the past through Team “Ground Rules”. These are rules created by the team for how they want to work, what’s important for them and what they want to achieve. I wrote a blog about Team Manifestos that might be useful if you’d like to learn more

  • Own your mistakes

There is a great deal that can be learned by owning your mistakes and I think it’s one big thing for building trust. Owning your mistakes, does not imply that you’re weak, but that you’re responsible for the outcome and you’re not afraid of failing. In many team manifestos we include the analogy: Fail fast, learn quicker as an encouragement that we should not fear mistakes or trying something new.

  • Encourage team development

One area of trust that can be easily fostered is around team development. How we work within our teams, what they might need and how we can develop them is important for ensuring trust. When I join a new team, I try to work out what professional development they may need to help them do their job. This is not to try and show their weaknesses or highlight deficiencies but to show that I value their contributions and want to invest in their development to become even better.

What is your top tip for building trust within teams? Share your comments!

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