Many definitions of trust have a lot to do with wholeheartedly relying on someone because of their character or integrity. Team trust or trust in a team is not alien to any corporate entity because successful smaller teams or groupings are critical building blocks for successful corporate entities.

    As such, many or almost all organizations work ardently at fostering or building the trust in a team and have to keep working at keeping the team bound tightly and growing through trust. In summary, the element of trust is a critical ‘ingredient’ for team cohesiveness and growth.

    How to Build, Sustain and Grow Team Trust

    This article looks at three ways of doing this.

    • Communication – Information Sharing, Regular/Frequent Communication and Clarity of Communication

    Peter Drucker, well quoted in management circles, says that the most important thing in communication is hearing what is not said, not what is said.

    Effective communication is the invisible adhesive that keeps a team together. Team members must not just assume there has been communication when a message is sent across. A team must ensure that its verbal and non-verbal communication aligns as much as possible with what is meant or intended so that obstacles like misunderstanding and misinterpretation are reduced to the barest minimum. It must be evident that people, in general, listen to and look out for the whole message being communicated. The message being passed on includes the words, gestures, facial expressions and body language – the whole package. Sometimes, even the tone of voice carries across a message. No wonder, many-a-time, messages are deemed to have meant something else probably than what was meant because of the tone of voice/text over the telephone or in a text across social media or via email.

    In short, in order to foster team cohesiveness and success through trust, there must be frequent information sharing in all directions – both formal and informal, and clarity as much as possible.

    Undeniably, many other factors including the mood of the receiver of communication at any point in time, has an effect on how any message is received and so the message being sent out should eliminate, as much as possible, any obstructions to effective communication.

    • Honest and Timely Feedback

    Ed Batista asserts, “make feedback normal, not a performance review.” Cohesive teams understand that for feedback to be effective they must be described as honest and timely. Any team on the trajectory of growth should not replace timely and honest feedback with any other elements. Providing and receiving feedback can be set in motion as simple as asking a friend, “how are you doing?” Weeding out flattery and/or deception appears to make it easier to exchange honest feedback.

    There is an African proverb which makes great meaning when it says, “Examine what is said and not who speaks”. Feedback examined with this in mind will not make light of the content of communication/feedback but will process what is communicated through objective lenses. It makes no difference if what we need to improve upon work processes or relationships within a team comes from the security guard or the CEO. Arguably, some of the most detailed and critical feedback may come from the lower ranking staff in any organization.

    How well (regular, timely, honest, clear, concise, etc) is the feedback we provide each other in our teams? Do we encourage this kind of feedback? Think about it.

    • Following Through on Commitments

    The Commitment-Trust theory of relationship marketing, attributed to Morgan and Hunt, stipulates that for any relationship to be successful, trust and commitment are fundamental to it.

    Commitment seems to go hand-in-hand, sometimes, with trust. Since teams exist for some objective or reason, the level of trust and growth a team enjoys derives greatly from team members following through on commitments made. Commitments are decisions with or without timelines made by teams and their members.

    How will this work? Begin with yourself – commit to following through on your commitments made to the team or to members of the team and begin to take note of what difference it makes to the team as a whole.

    Conclusion

    If there is anything about the teams you work with which you would like to improve, you should probably consider working at getting the team members to trust themselves. A healthy team is a basic building block for any organization no matter its size.

    Freda Abah-Dakou

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