Developing trust in teams

How do you build trust in a team?

Gaining trust may seem like a simple thing, but it can actually be very challenging. Every person has their own opinions, perspectives, and desired ways to work. Now add a number of people together and tell them they have to make all those varied preferences work together–starting to get trickier right? When these behavioral differences exist, it can be difficult to find common ground, form relationships, and find the right way to work together. 

When it comes to building trust, there are many steps you can take, but a main factor that will help build that foundation is to have a clear goal for all team members to align with. Having alignment is impossible when there isn’t a clear strategy for people to follow. This will likely lead to frustration around priorities or responsibilities within the team. 

But it’s not just enough to have a clear goal. Leaders should also consider the business strategy and how the team aligns with those values. The Predictive Index’s Team Discovery tool is a great way to understand your team’s collective style and compare that with your business strategy. Taking the extra time to perform these steps will show how naturally prepared your team is for the work to be done. This gives team members an opportunity to see the personalities of their peers and know how they can benefit from one another to achieve that goal.

Check out the activity below to see the Discovery Tool in action.

We recommend diving even deeper than just the team level, though. Remember that your team is made up of unique individuals who will all have different work preferences. Take some time to ensure they’re aware of not only themselves but of their other team members. PI’s Relationship Guide is a great resource for pairing two individuals together and finding out not just how they can benefit from one another, but what they should be cautious about, based on their behavioral tendencies. Set up 1-on-1 meetings between team members early on to have these discussions before problems arise. Prioritizing this awareness of one another will help lead your team to a more empathetic thinking process. Remember, a trusting team will be one that assumes the best intentions from one another.

Now that you’ve prepared your team from a strategy perspective, it’s time to focus on how the team will interact on a daily basis. Building trust, as we mentioned using the trust triangle, will lead to conflict and debate around the work being done. In the moment, things might be said that are misinterpreted; this is fairly common, even if you understand the behavioral preferences of yourself and others. Why does this happen? 

Simply put, it’s not common to practice giving feedback or, at the very least, be conscientious about how to receive feedback. Sometimes it’s better just to be deliberate and say, “Hey, this is something that many teams can struggle with. Let’s practice giving each other feedback.” Whether it’s using a recent project or coming up with a faux scenario, allowing the team to see how each person handles feedback will benefit the team in the long run. 

Looking for even more tips to build trust? Try out the actions listed below:

Share your weaknesses and don’t pretend you have all the answers. Be the leading example for your team.

Follow through on your commitments and make sure the team holds each other accountable.

Sometimes it’s better just to say that the team needs to build trust and that’s why you’re taking specific actions.

When change comes, it’s important to communicate with staff as soon as possible and be open and honest about what impacted the decision. People can trust transparency—even if they don’t agree with the decision.

If team members feel they can’t speak candidly, they may withhold critical feedback. Take time to explain the why behind the thinking—that honesty will make for a more effective team.

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