There are many recipes for success in a team, one of which is trust, hence the importance of building trust in a team.
You might have heard many people talk about how they have trust issues.
Having trust issues means finding it difficult to trust others.
This can often be traced to a prior experience the person has had where the trust they have in others has been broken, and hence it’s hard for them to trust again.
However, regardless of how hard it is to develop trust, it is still a very integral aspect and bedrock of all lasting relationships.
No interpersonal relationship can be forged or developed without a strong trust level.
This is because only when there is mutual trust can people share ideas and work with them freely.
Trust is equally an essential part of team building in the workplace.
This trust should exist between the employees, employer, and also within the team.
And as such, it is something that every employer should strive to build in the workplace.
Before we consider how to build trust in a team, let’s first define the word ‘Trust‘ to see why it is essential in the workplace and some of the factors that might make building trust hard to achieve.
How to Build Trust in a Team – What is Trust?
Trust can be defined as firm belief, reliance, or confidence in something or someone.
It is usually used to indicate that the person trusting the other party understands that come what may, the other party will meet expectations.
The word ‘Trust’ has often been associated with personal relationships, especially between couples, family members, or close friends.
For the success of such relationships, each party involved should have a strong belief and confidence in the other party that they are loyal and trustworthy.
It comes as no surprise that many relationships broken apart are primarily due to a lack of trust or betrayed trust.
The same applies to a team of employees working in an organization.
Because of the diversity and differences between the team members, trust sometimes might be hard to come by.
Thereby making it difficult to work towards a common goal and achieve success.
Nevertheless, this blog post dwells on practical steps you or any business owner can employ to build trust in your organization.
Why is Building Trust Important in a Team
Have it in mind that building trust means employers, employees, colleagues, and teams having mutual trust among themselves.
Above all, building trust in a team is essential for the following reasons:
It Offers a Sense of Safety on the Team
With trust comes a feeling of confidence in the other person that one party would not harm the other one.
In some organizations where there is distrust, the safety and security of the team members are constantly under threat, or so they think.
You might find that many people on the team would begin to second guess the motives of others or feel that they do not have their backs.
Also, this would mean that they see their team members as a threat to them, either physically or professionally.
However, when you build a team where trust is an abiding attribute, every team member feels safe when with one another, and this is a big plus for your organization, as you will soon see.
Trust Encourages Sharing of Skills, Knowledge, and Experience
There is a very high possibility in your team that some have more experience, have more knowledge, and have better skills than others.
As an employer, your joy would be to see such people assist those who are not so good at growing and developing into seasoned professionals.
However, without trust in the team, sharing of knowledge and experience will not exist.
Those who seem to be at an advantage would prefer to hoard their talents/knowledge and refuse to share them with others.
The reason is simple.
They either do not trust them enough that they will be able to make good use of the information, or they do not trust their motives.
They might even harbor fears that giving others these privileges would put them in a disadvantaged position or negatively affect them.
It Offers Greater Autonomy on the Team
Another reason trust is essential in a team is that it enables an employer to give more autonomy.
Most times, employers micromanage employees or fail to give them specific responsibilities because of a lack of trust.
Therefore, you will find more autonomy in the workplace when you build trust, especially between the management and those under them.
It Encourages Risk-Taking and Eventual Innovation
Take a close look at every innovation and creativity, and you will find one common thing.
It is always a result of having the courage and confidence to take calculated risks and see the decision through.
No one person or group of people who have refused to take risks have been able to accomplish anything worthwhile.
Nevertheless, you cannot encourage risk-taking in a team when there is no trust.
A lack of trust makes team members second guess the motives of others and also makes people thread on the path of caution at all times.
People are afraid to make unpopular decisions or take difficult actions because they have not been trusted enough.
On the other hand, when you create an atmosphere where mutual trust exists, the team takes on more calculated risks, which breeds creativity, innovative ideas, and solutions.
There is more Effective and Open Communication
Do you have someone you are very comfortable sharing your feelings, thoughts, and emotions with?
Perhaps the person is a family member, a close friend, or just a close associate?
You would realize that is a result of mutual trust existing between you and the other party.
The same is what transpires in the workplace.
When there is trust, the lines of communication are open.
Team members are more willing to share even the deepest of feelings and emotions with one another.
This is because they no longer fear that their insecurities will be used against them or give the other person an advantage over them.
Real trust throws such fears outside.
Without trust, however, there is less communication, as everyone would prefer to be and act alone, keeping their thoughts, opinions, and ideas to themselves.
Trust Increases Productivity
Distrust amongst teams can be very daunting and energy-draining.
The time that should be spent carrying out the job duties and responsibilities would instead be used for “watching one’s own back” and “protecting personal interests.” And that affects productivity.
On the other hand, when there is trust in a team, energy is directed toward something more worthwhile and productive.
Your team members do not need to worry unnecessarily about protecting their interests or not being “stabbed in the back.”
Instead, they can use that time and energy to focus on the main job at hand and get more productive.
It Encourages Teamwork and Collaboration
Two people can’t work together collaboratively when there is no mutual trust between them.
How about when you need people in their tens, hundreds, or thousands to work as a team.
It is even more challenging to get teamwork and collaboration.
Hence, building a team where trust exists allows you to get teamwork and effective collaboration between the team members, all being recipes for success and growth.
Factors That Might Make Building Trust in a Team Difficult
As an employer or leader who knows the importance of collaboration and a good team, we understand that you would have been working on building a team that has trust as a significant glue.
But then, the efforts you are putting in might not be giving you the needed results or not as quickly as you would prefer.
Well, some factors might be hindering all your efforts at building trust in a team.
Let us now look at some of them, as these would give you an insight into what’s impeding your results, and therefore, you will know where to look in your quest to build trust.
Past Experience of Betrayal for Individuals
Ugly past experiences rank among the most common reasons why people have trust issues.
When an individual has shown trust in the past and has been betrayed, it might be challenging to trust again.
That means that there is a traumatic experience that comes with having one’s trust broken.
Hence, when you are working to build trust in your team, pay close attention to the backgrounds of individuals.
If you get close to them and try to communicate with them, you might find that some have had bad experiences trusting people in the past.
This might affect their willingness to trust again.
Armed with this information, you can then know the next line of action to help such a person.
A Lack of Communication
As far as trust-building is concerned, communication is an essential ingredient.
Trust can help foster open communication, as we’ve seen earlier, and communication can also build trust.
When there’s poor communication between your team, the team members would have limited knowledge about one another.
Also, when you do not get close to people and get to know them well, it is hard to trust such ones.
Job Insecurities or High Employee Turnover
This affects the trust between employees and employers most especially.
People generally thrive in organizations where they feel secured and do not have to fear their jobs been taken away from them at any time.
Hence, if you do not provide job security for your team or have made it a habit to fire employees without cause or unduly, building a relationship built on trust will be difficult.
The team members might begin to doubt the sincerity of the organization’s management and feel their motives are not pure.
This can eventually break whatever trust has been built or make it very hard to even build one at all.
Cultural Differences and Diversity
Don’t get it wrong; diversity on a team is essential.
It is integral to building successful, influential, and winning teams.
However, this diversity might sometimes also make it challenging to build trust.
When people of the same background or culture come together, it’s easier to understand each other and quickly develop trust.
However, it is much more difficult when there is a difference in culture and environment.
It could be that some of these team members might have heard negative reports about their colleagues’ culture, whether true or not, and it might be influencing their willingness to trust such colleagues.
That is how diverse cultures, traditions, and backgrounds can negatively affect trust in the workplace.
Dishonesty and Lack of Integrity
When hiring people to be part of a team, one of the qualities usually emphasized is honesty and integrity.
It is not hard to see why that is so.
These two qualities are the bedrock of building a relationship where trust and respect exist.
Just as it is with relationships we try to build in our personal lives; a dishonest person cannot earn the trust of others because they are not trustworthy.
Therefore, when you have such people on your team, it might be tough to build trust.
Hence, when searching for people to make up your team, endeavor to choose trustworthy individuals.
How to Build Trust in a Team – 10 Measures you can Take
There is a popular saying that “Trust is not given, but it is earned, and it takes time.”
The measures we are going to discuss in this section would be based on this principle and knowledge.
Here are ten (10) things you can do starting right away that can help you build trust in a team:
Set the Example of Trust
Your employees are watching you as the leader or employer and are more likely to mirror you in what you do.
That is why it is essential that you set a fine example in showing trust in others.
When you trust your subordinates with certain responsibilities, it is a way of telling them that they can trust one another.
Whereas when you distrust others as a leader, there is a high chance of the team members lacking trust.
Therefore, the first thing you need to do to build trust in a team is to show a fine example of trusting others.
Focus on Personality When Hiring
As you hire skillful and talented people, pay attention to work ethics and personality traits.
This is because the skillset and level of experience will not count when you need trust, but the personality of the individuals will.
Included among the personality traits you should be looking out for in those you want to hire are honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness.
If you are hiring based on recommendations, be sure to ask those who recommended them if they possess these qualities.
Overall, check to see if prospective employees are trustworthy and have team spirit before hiring them.
Delegate Tasks to the Team
An employer, business owner, or manager who always controls or oversees everything will find it challenging to build trust in their team.
Firstly, it gives the team members the feeling that you do not trust them enough to deliver results.
This would then have a ripple effect across the entire team, where individual team members distrust themselves.
On the other hand, when you delegate tasks and responsibilities to the team, even the most difficult ones, it shows you believe in their abilities.
That, in turn, would also make individual team members also trust themselves and others more.
Put Emphasis on Honest and Open Communication
Communication keeps coming up in this article on building trust in a team, and it’s not hard to see why.
Communication is very integral to building trust.
As a leader, you should make your team members relaxed enough to openly communicate with you at all times, both positive and negative.
That means that even when a team member makes a mistake, they should be free to share this with their colleagues and the management.
When there is honest and open communication on a team, everyone feels safe, and there is confidence in the values and ethics of other team members.
This is a breeding ground for trust to grow.
Avoid Sharing Blames on the Team
One thing that makes teams very successful in their duties and responsibilities is the spirit of togetherness or “the WE spirit.”
This means that every member of the team sees the whole group as one body.
Hence whatever success or mistakes are made, there’s no “I” in the equation but “WE.”
When a team leader or employer starts pointing fingers or blame at one or some of the team members when something goes wrong, trust is hard to find.
As a manager or team leader, the approach to take towards mistakes is a collaborative one, whereby the entire team takes responsibility for the actions and inactions of others.
When you do this, there is less likely to be a group or individual who thinks they are better than others and that others are responsible for their failure or slow growth.
Practice Transparency in all Levels of the Team
Being transparent begins with the employer, down to the team leader and each member of the team.
Most significantly, the employer or manager needs to be open with the team, not holding back from sharing personal experiences and stories that would benefit them.
When you are transparent with your team, they see that you are not holding anything back for them.
This will make them trust you more.
You can also arrange for gatherings where your team members share information about one another openly.
Some of this information might even be personal issues.
Such an open and transparent forum can help to build trust in the team.
Allow Everyone to Make Contributions
How do you react when the least experienced or least talented member itches to contribute in a team meeting?
Do you ignore them, shut them up or fail to allow them to express themselves?
If you do this, you send the wrong message to the other team members.
The message is, “You see this person, he/she is not fit, and hence we can’t trust him.”
You have already shown by your actions that you distrust them, and you can be sure that every other team member will follow suit.
However, when you welcome every opinion, idea, or contribution, you’re creating a culture of trust among your team.
Ensure Everyone Fulfils Their Tasks
Nothing frustrates a person working on a team as much as when a fellow team member does not keep up with their tasks and responsibilities.
This usually puts a strain on others and might slow down the efficiency of the team in general.
And this can affect trust and collaboration on the team.
Hence, it is your responsibility to ensure that every team member fulfills their commitment and contributes to the team.
When everyone works together in this way, putting in the same level of input, there is more trust and respect on the team.
Remove the Toxic Team Gossips
Many things tend to break a team apart and kill the trust between team members, and gossip is one of them.
Gossip tends to create cliques in a team, whereby some individuals spread wrong information and stories about others, painting them in a bad light to others.
When there is gossip, and you don’t stop it, some team members start distrusting others.
Even when the information is accurate, the effect is still the same.
Hence, when you notice this toxic trait, work quickly to correct it from your team even if it mean letting go of such an employee.
That way, you can build trust more on the team.
Be Generous with Information, Knowledge, and Praise
It is far too common to find jealousy and unhealthy competition on a team, especially teams of many individuals.
Sometimes, this can lead to distrust.
Therefore, to build trust in the team, every team member should be generous with information and knowledge.
What that means is that if you know something that others don’t, don’t keep it to yourself but kindly and generously share this with others.
The same thing applies to giving praise and recognition to others.
When a team member does something remarkable, be the first to praise them and acknowledge it.
It is essential to make such praises genuine, though if it will have the needed impact to build trust.
Final Thoughts on How to Build Trust in a Team
We all need people we can trust.
Whether in our relationships with others or in our professional careers, trust is essential and something everyone finds desirable.
However, it might take you some time to build trust either as a team leader or an employeer.
This is all thanks to some of the many factors that inhibit trust.
However, with hard work and consistency, you will soon be able to build a team where mutual trust and respect exist.