Trust is critical for team success. Understand the say-do gap and other trust diminishers. Ways to (re)build trust are also discussed.
- How would you define trust? According to Webster's Dictionary, trust can be defined as the assured reliance on the character, strength, or truth of someone, and one in which confidence is placed. Teams that lack trust struggle to accomplish their goals. Because trust is so important, I want to share with you some ways you can establish and maintain trust within your team. One of the quickest ways to diminish trust in teams is what's called the say-do gap.
It happens more regularly than any of us would like. We say we're going to do something and in the hustle of managing everything else on our plates, we don't get around to it. As a leader, it's important for you to model the behavior you expect of your teammates. If you say you're going to do something, do it. As a general rule, it's always a good idea to under promise and over deliver. Rarely are people frustrated if you come through with more than you promised. The reverse results in disappointment, that can lead to resentment if it happens frequently.
If, for whatever reason, you don't meet the expectation you've set, it's important to acknowledge it. You're human, life happens. Just be careful you don't give excuses. People tend to be more understanding if you take responsibility and don't make a habit of not following through on your promises. Next, keep the lines of communication open with your teammates. Share your knowledge of the broader organization and how your team's efforts fit within the big picture. Clarifying roles, how you'll communicate, and expectations in a team charter is a great way to establish ground rules within your team.
You can find a sample template of a team charter in the Exercise Files. If you value the contributions of your teammates, let them know it. Offer praise and express gratitude for the efforts your teammates are making, individually and collectively. It only takes a few seconds to send an email or publicly thank someone for a job well done. People work harder when they know their contributions are noticed and appreciated. Within the context of your team, trust can also be built by developing relationships and experiencing successes.
As the team leader, you can create opportunities for both. Establish time for team building, so that your teammates can get to know each other. If you're working virtually and can't meet in person, schedule a virtual meet and greet. Success is a great unifier. When possible, identify low hanging fruit or some quick wins for your team. This will help build confidence in your collective ability to take on future initiatives. When it comes to trust, most people fall into one of two camps.
They either trust people until given a reason not to trust them. Or they don't trust people until it's earned. Whichever camp your teammates fall into, one thing is universally true, trust is easily broken, and when that happens it's difficult to repair. By keeping these tips in mind, you can establish trust and maintain it within your team.
- Defining roles and commitments
- Managing conflict
- Establishing and maintaining trust
- Creating a shared vision and focusing on objectives
- Providing feedback
- Structuring time for reflection
- Holding teammates accountable
- Communicating in face-to-face and virtual meetings
- Communicating across job functions and across cultures