More About Building Better Teams Thru Trust

Are you responsible for a team at work? Is it performing at the highest level you can imagine?

elevating team performance

I’ve been writing about the impact that trust can have on your team. But why does trust matter?

Trust is not merely a soft, social virtue; rather, trust is a pragmatic, hard-edged, economic, and actionable asset that you can create. There is a compelling case for trust. Teams and organizations that operate with high trust significantly outperform teams and organizations with low trust—this has been proven in dozens of studies, across a multitude of industries and sectors.

Stephen M.R.Covey

In my last article, I introduced a powerful and proven model that defines the stages for building trust on your team. (You can see it here).

The model explains the interrelationships between six sets of key questions that team members ask themselves about the team they are on. Leaders are responsible for influencing each team member’s answers to these six questions.

You, as the leader, must evaluate each team member’s progress in positively answering the questions. If you sense someone is stuck on one of the stages, it’s your duty to help them get unstuck.

Team Trust

Trust in Action

In this post, I want to share with you some of the examples of ways this model performs “in the real world.”

There is not enough time or space in this post to cover all of the possibilities. However, I can share some powerful insights that are actual examples of questions and stories I hear when I coach on this topic.


Step #1 is the key question “Do I even want to be here?”

Each individual member of a team must ask and resolve this fundamental question. The answer needs to be positive or else the remaining questions may be moot.

Clients of mine have stated “Everyone in the company has traveled unique paths to get where they are. Therefore, the definition of reality may be completely impacted by their personal perception of the business environment from which they came. i.e. there is little room for newness or change in the situation.”

This observation is not unique. The statement could be true for most employees everywhere. We all, in some way or another, look at new situations with a biased eye based on our experiences of the past.

The statement actually fits squarely with the meaning of step #1 in the model. Again, each person on the team must answer the basic question “Do I even want to be here?”

The model makes no attempt to qualify the answer(s). Your experiences do drive your perception and reality. The question becomes “what about now?”

Side note: If someone’s initial answer to #1 is negative, they can be swayed by learning and understanding the remaining questions. More on that later.


Step #2 is about purpose. “Do I understand the purpose for this team and can I buy-in?”

At this step, the leader must provide clarity and simplicity.

All too often, the original purpose for creating the team gets lost along the way. New teams get the benefit of having at least some idea of their stated purpose to begin with. But as time goes on, that purpose can get confused or clouded. It’s the leader’s responsibility to keep the purpose focused, simple, and clear.

If the team starts to veer off course from the primary purpose, there needs to be a discussion specifically about reconnecting on the purpose.

Employees cannot give their all to a cause that is uncertain or unclear. Clarity elevates commitment.

Trust Comes from Relationships

When my model first hit the LinkedIn circuit, it went viral. I received comments reminding me about the power of relationships for building trust.

I couldn’t agree more. Leaders must build relationships with their team to establish a climate that allows trust to grow.

The leader must set the tone for the team to be able to establish trust. If you are responsible for a team, YOU have to set the course for whether or not trust might grow.

There are rare occasions when the team establsihes its own level of trust yet ignores the leader.

In my early career, I worked for an executive who was not worthy of respect and trust. My colleagues (his team) and I banded together to create an alliance against him. We didn’t do it maliciously. We did it for survival against his horrible leadership and management style.

We trusted each other explicitly. But we didn’t trust our boss further than we could throw him.

He had failed to build an environment that favored trust as a complete unit.

Thinking in terms of the six-step model, we were working among ourselves to find positive answers to make things work even though our boss was unable to guide and direct. We honored the position he occupied, but had no respect for him as a manager.

Wrapping It Up

These are just a few of the practical ways the team trust model works. I’ll be sharing more in weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have your own observations, comments or questions, leave them here in the comment section below.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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