Teams and Trust

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Developing Employees, Retaining Employees

Like many of the best things in life, trust really is free. Doing without trust will cost you dearly, especially in business. What’s at stake is productivity, innovation, and ultimately, profits.

High functioning teams share goals that drive day-to-day activities. Their mutual self-interest greases the wheels of collaboration, but trust is the solid ground they ride on. Capitalizing on their energy and motivation so your team is productive requires that they collaborate freely, and for that, people need to trust each other.

Trust is based on a history of honest relationships. Do people at your company talk directly to a person when they have an issue with them or just complain about that person to someone else? Teams are subtly strengthened or gradually divided by the way simple, everyday differences are communicated.

Unified teams have integrity, demonstrating honesty through actions. Having integrity means that what an individual says and what they actually do are consistent with each other. Can your team count on one another to do what they say they will do?

Teams that operate in the absence of trust are guarded, and by necessity more cautious about everything they say and do. Communication becomes a way to defend and protect oneself, avoiding risk rather than reaching for results. The consequence for your business is more of the status quo, instead of the collaborative risk-taking that exemplifies off-the-charts growth.

Harnessing their inspiration and creativity depends on employees being able to trust each other and their managers. Groups innovate when they are comfortable sharing ideas, exploring “What if…?” and can rely on each other to keep the process moving. They need to feel safe discussing “what’s not working” in the context of exploring ways to make it better. If ideas are often met with cynicism and viewed as a waste of time (“Don’t bother, it’ll never be considered”), you may be missing out on great contributions. Are individuals viewed with respect for taking the initiative to pitch ideas, regardless of the outcome?

The answers to these questions are a good indicator of whether your company is already recognized as a creative industry leader or one that follows trends set by more innovative competitors. When trust levels are high, so is the potential that the talented people you’ve hired will coalesce to become a powerful team.

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