Trust is one of the true secrets to any team that achieves success. At its core, it is the ability to predict someone else’s behavior. In practice, it means that your team can predict if you will act with integrity, if you have their best interests at heart, and if the instructions you give will have a worthwhile purpose.
Behaviors that build trust in virtual teams have become especially important in recent years. With so many companies moving online, we’re still adapting to relationships that aren’t face-to-face. This requires more on-the-nose actions as the more subtle messages you pick up through body languages won’t work.
So, if you’ve just moved into the managerial world, started a job in a new company, or you’ve simply plateaued and want to rediscover how to build trust with your team members, this article is for you. It will offer 10 strategies, some on a personal level, others on an organizational level, that will inspire trust in you as a manager and help you establish leadership credibility.
One of the most obviously personal methods for building trust in teams, being open spans a vast range of situations. Most obviously, it comes across when issuing instructions that might leave a bitter taste in your team’s mouth. Sentences that begin “I know it’s hard to see where this fits in, but…” or “I realize this feels like a U-turn”, automatically bridges the gap between management and their subordinates.
It’s an important part of building trust in teams because it shows that you have taken the time to consider the issue and understand what they may be feeling. Rather than passing down robotic orders, you open up the human side, which stops your team seeing you as part of the management “up there” and instead a person who cares about others.
Intricately linked to your own openness with your team is getting them to be upfront with you. By showing your own human side, you open up communication so your team can raise both concerns and bright ideas. The result is that everybody in your department knows they’re in a safe space where they don’t need to fear raising their hand.
Making team members feel comfortable enough to speak is especially important when trying to build trust and credibility with a new team. Even the most confident employees can feel intimidated joining a new company, with fresh people, procedures, and cultures to get to grips with.
Here are a few tips for building trust in teams through receptive communication:
Running Q&As and requesting feedback on decisions
Offering team members an open opportunity to speak in appraisals
Practicing an open-door policy
Publicly praising team members for raising issues
Implement good ideas to show you’re taking things on board
You can’t expect your team to act a certain way if you’re not prepared to take up the mantle yourself. Part of building trust in teams is matching your words to your actions and vice versa. It shows you’re not just paying lip service to positive behavior, you’re willing to walk the walk too.
For example, if there is a particularly unpleasant job to do, don’t immediately see it as below your status. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, you will inspire trust, especially among those who have been used to receiving the short straw in other companies.
Leading by example is crucial if you want to build trust and credibility with a new team. Whether the entire company is new, or you’ve joined a team that already knows each other, your attitude lights the path that your team will follow. They say a fish rots from the head down, so setting a bad example will almost always lead to not only losing trust, but encouraging poor behavior too.
An important step in building trust in virtual teams, where workers often feel isolated, predictable workflows allow people to feel confident in what they’re working towards, and therefore, to feel confident in you. Nobody wants to be unsure of what they’re supposed to do, especially if they’ll have to set up a video call to clarify things.
That’s why, when building trust in teams of any format, you should be consistent in how you set tasks. Successful bosses use task management tools that feature detailed instructions, clear deadlines, all responsible people involved, and a space to voice any questions.
By keeping your tasks and workflows logical and consistent, you will establish leadership credibility by showing that you know what you’re doing. Not sticking to a plan will leave your team feeling you’re struggling to keep the ship afloat.
Once you’ve got your day-to-day tasks taken care of, you can focus on opening up new avenues of collaborative work. Yes, this brings up an amount of extra complexity, but with a clear-headed vision, you can start building trust in teams in no time.
Your personal leadership is important to build trust, but what can really take things to the next level is when you volunteer members of your team to work on company-wide projects. It helps expand each individual’s experience, so they know you’ve got their best interests at heart. When done correctly, it proves your quality as a decision maker and ultimately increases trust in you.
So when the time comes, offer up interdepartmental opportunities to your team and let them build up their repertoire. Equip them with collaborative tools and prepare them for new processes, and they’ll return the favor with trust.
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Setting targets is one of the easiest ways to measure an individual and a team’s performance. However, targets are also a good way of building trust in teams because it shows that you care about each person’s development. These targets can be used to invest in your staff. Rather than using them as a box-checking exercise, you can praise areas that someone excels in, while offering support and guidance on weaker areas.
Similarly, with analytics on your side, you can offer appraisals based on numbers, so you can’t be accused of favoritism. While the numbers are quite a cold representation of development, you can use them to give your team an idea of their level, and steps on how to progress during appraisals.
When it comes to the often-isolated world of remote working, targets and praise become even more important. Paying close attention to performance and being a cheerleader, rather than a critic, is one of the most common behaviors that build trust in virtual teams.
Building trust and collaboration in a virtual team has become ever more important with the recent shift to home offices. Part of the joys of not attending an office is the flexibility that comes in remote roles. Of course, it can’t be a free-for-all, but with a few pointers in the right direction, you can create a great working environment for virtual teams.
It’s incredibly demotivating to have a Leviathan breathing down your neck from a distance. It doesn’t just break trust, it sparks frustration, stress, and burnout. At the same time, you can’t have schedules that never seem to overlap because everybody is busy doing something else.
We’d recommend striking the balance: treating your team like adults. Ultimately, if they consistently hand in work on time and don’t miss any important meetings, why shouldn’t your staff drop their kids off at school at 9:00 and get their working day started at 11:00?
Although it’s a great way of building trust in virtual teams, it’s only fair that if your flexibility is taken advantage of, stricter schedules will have to be implemented.
Delegating manageable tasks that are normally above someone’s pay grade is a great way of showing confidence in them, and earning their trust in return. Clearly, there is a balance to be struck between offering opportunity and overloading, but on the whole, shared responsibility pays off in terms of team dynamics.
To make sure everybody has enough time for their extra tasks, consider using a Gantt chart, which maps out everybody’s schedule in a simple structure. This way, you can create free slots rather than adding to and overloading your team’s capacity.
Even if you don’t have concrete tasks to dish out, you can always offer your team more autonomy in their work. Rather than laying down the law with strict instructions, you can give responsibility by allowing your team to complete tasks in the best way they see fit.
While delegation is a great way of building trust in teams through development, a more focused approach is with training. Say you’ve got a designer who has always wanted to move into social media — and your social media team needs a hand — why not put your designer on a course?
Aside from the fact that you’ll add more strings to your team’s bow, training courses are a sign of intent. You want the best for your staff and you’re willing to help them develop their careers to prove it. The result of this style of management is more loyal, engaged staff with a new set of skills. What’s not to love?
Sure, it is conceivable that your designer will take the course, say thank you, then move to another company. To avoid this, consider a career progression roadmap that will double down on your commitment to your team, and keep that trusted talent on your side.
It’s no secret that people are much more trusting when they get to know each other, and team-building exercises are one of the best ways to do that in a professional setting.
Social activities create interpersonal bonds, good memories, and a less frosty environment around the office. Without these socials, you’re more likely to find silos, politics, and toxicity in your team, and although team-building events aren’t a panacea, they help to humanize everybody in the team.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but this strategy really helps in building trust and collaboration in a virtual team. Remote offices by their very nature don’t link people together, making team building an essential part of creating trust. By showing you’re willing to get to know each individual, rather than seeing them as a cog in a machine, they’ll be more likely to back you when times get tough.
Now you understand how to build trust with your team members, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice,
So many of the tips we’ve offered above — especially the organizational ones — need the backing of technology. Whether it’s creating workflow templates for consistency, offering real-time tips and guidance on new projects, or scheduling your team’s timetable like a pro, Bitrix24 has got you covered.
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