Building Trust – Why It Matters

In any relationship, trust is a key element. Without it, things don’t last very long. With trust you can withstand most anything. Managers at every level of an organization must seek first to build a foundation of trust within their circle of influence.

The world is craving a new story about leadership and business, one that underscores the way people trust and contribute to each other. Without trust, the chances for a long-term success are diminished. Those who recognize the importance of building business and leadership foundation on trust are likely to find themselves doing what is right and what is good for stakeholders in the long run. ~Lolly Daskal

In business, trust operates at many levels. A company’s customers or clients must obtain a level of trust in the product or serve before agreeing to buy. Achieving this dynamic can work in either of two ways. First, the prospective customer gets to know the representatives of the company. If they learn to like these people, over time, a trust builds. Once that trust is established, the decision to buy is easier (not automatic, just easier).

On the other hand, a product or service gets a reputation for reliability and performance. Trust grows, clients consume. Sometimes the public never really knows the people behind the product, they just know they trust the brand. Think about Google or Apple. Most of us never get to know an individual Googler or an Apple genius in person, right? Yet we trust the brand to bring us the service we crave.

Team Work

We all know it takes teams to build a brand. Within those teams, the highest performing ones have their own levels of trust. Therefore, while we may never know the people behind the product we like and trust, they make it happen nonetheless.

That brings us to the leadership that drives those teams. There is a six part model that clearly does a breakdown of the primary elements for building high trust team who will perform at higher levels that team without such trust.

Team Trust

Team Trust

Following this process, you can find ways to build trust within your team, growing the depth of the trust relationship. Once trust is established, there is no limit on the things your team can produce.

Here are the 6 steps to building trust within your team

1. The People –  Trust begins with each employee answering their own key question “Do I even want to be on this team?” Jim Collins in “Good to Great” calls it getting the right people on the bus. Clearly your hiring decisions impact the potential for a positive answer to this question. If you hired the wrong person, they may quickly question whether they even want to be on the team. Yet even with the best hiring decisions you can make, the individual must answer this question for themselves once they land. After orientation, there is a buy-in period that is inevitable. Trust cannot begin until everyone on the team is positive that “yes, I want to be here”.

2. The Purpose –  Team trust requires agreement with what the team is trying to accomplish. In “Tribes”, Seth Godin talks about the nature of a tribe as being aligned with a central purpose. Every work team is its own tribe. The purpose must be aligned.

Businesses build operating units for a purpose. Teams within those units operate as a contributor to the overall success of the organization. Trust grows from the alignment with team purpose, and, again, individual understanding of that purpose. A leader has to build understanding. If the purpose is not clearly articulated to everyone, then trust lags.

3. The Plan –  How will the team get this done? Many of us are planners, others are followers. Either way, knowing about the existence of the plan makes the way forward more achievable. Belief in the plan also builds trust.

Even when employee buy-in (#1) happens and a clear purpose is understood (#2), the plan is critical for establishing trust. The plan helps the team understand steps, goals, and means to get their work accomplished.

4. The Practice –  Is what we are going to do consistent with the plan. Are skills sets accounted for? Are resources made available? Said another way, have we eliminated any notion of being set-up to fail?

Policies, procedures, and practice makes the way clear for high trust performance. If rules and regulations become a hindrance, the trust erodes. The confidence for being able to perform is put in doubt.

5. The Performance –  Once we begin working, is our performance going to be measured in ways that are accurate, meaningful, and valuable. Measuring performance offers proper feedback for fine tuning the purpose, plan, and practice. Therefore, adequate performance measurement is vital.

Employees who never receive coaching about their performance cannot be expected to give trust and higher performance. This is why more modern tools like Big 5 Performance Management make such a big difference. Rather than waiting on tired and untimely reports like the old fashioned annual reviews, Big 5 offers real-time feedback that can be communicated and coached every month.

6. The Payoff – Success begets success. Momentum is like the big flywheel. It takes time to start turning, but once it is in motion, it is hard to stop. Teams who celebrate success can taste it. Realizing that all of the effort used for steps 1 thru 5 result in success builds higher trust within the team. The payoff instills a desire for more effort and more momentum.

Trust Reward

The end result is a high trust team environment. Once the tribe establishes this bond of trust, there are few things that can deter their ongoing success.

The manager/leader who sets the tone for building this kind of trust will themselves reap the rewards for higher performance from the team.

In upcoming articles, I will dive deeper into each step. In addition, I will be offering practical tools the leader can use to perfect each step.

Question: If you have an experience operating within a high trust team environment, please share your story here. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Or, if you want to start NOW with improving your team’s level of trust, call me for speaking, coaching, or facilitation of a team exercise.

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