‘There’s no team without trust’. These wise words are from Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google. Trust is pivotal in enabling your team to grow and flourish, and work collaboratively towards joint goals.
Trust has also been called the ‘glue of society.’ It is an innate, natural response to qualities in another person, team or organisation, and it relies on specific attributes. If these qualities are taken away, trust is lost.
Trust can be a hard concept to define, and sometimes our attention is only drawn to it when it is missing. Signs of a lack of trust in your team could include withdrawal of communication, lack of enthusiasm for your ideas or general disengagement.
When we lose trust in another, we are less likely to confide in them as to how we feel, choosing instead to remove ourselves from their sphere. In the workplace, this can manifest in a team or individual who is hesitant to follow instructions or requests. Pull-back like this can be subtle initially, but left to grow unchecked can soon have more severe repercussions, including lower team morale and lack of productivity. In this blog I discuss the importance of trust and how to rebuild trust in your team when it breaks down.
The Building Blocks of Teamwork
Trust is the building block of collaborative working. It helps your team share purpose and interdependency. We all depend on others – peers and colleagues, leaders and managers - to guide and share our dedication and energy to make a group work successfully.
And trust is imperative to a successful business. So, if a manager loses the trust of a team or individual, they need to retrieve it – and that process is not always easy.
Trust is built on several qualities. If you believe your team has trust issues, it’s wise to consider each of the following attributes to see where the problem may lie:-
Reliability – be true to your word and fulfil commitments made to others.
Transparency – be clear in your communication and plans; share information.
Authenticity – avoid saying one thing but doing another. Insincerity will lead to mistrust of all you say and do. Ensure you actively listen to your team to be sincere and credible.
Competency – be ‘believable.’ In other words, know what you are doing. It’s not enough to be well-liked by your team; you need to be proficient and capable.
Vulnerability – managers and leaders who are never wrong and never apologise, create teams who are hesitant in sharing their thoughts or opposing views. Nothing creates stagnation in business quicker than this as it leads to retention of ideas that could spark innovation and keep your business ahead of the curve.
Executive Grapevine believes many leaders struggle with this ‘human’ side of their role, and yet a CEO who embraces humility and vulnerability, remaining open to feedback, self-discovery and continuous learning, will ultimately drive company success.
So be vulnerable, acknowledge your mistakes and see them as learning opportunities – and encourage others to do the same.
Restoring Lost Trust
To rebuild trust in your team, it’s essential to consider the absence of the above qualities and where you need to implement changes to rebuild confidence. It’s also important to remember to be open to conversations and other’s feelings, thoughts and needs during a process of restoration.
Here are the steps to rebuild trust in your team:-
Difficult conversations – Firstly, acknowledging the situation is the initial step to restoring trust. So, set the tone for transparency in communication and state your intentions.
Whether the breach of trust was intentional or otherwise, it’s critical to discuss the root cause. Seeking out the injured party requires courage, but by being vulnerable, you have already started the healing process – and that can lead to greater trust in the long term.
Share feelings – Next, open a conduit for free and open discussion. Make sure you actively listen to the other person’s point of view and consider their feelings with empathy to enable you to see where they are coming from and to understand what might have caused the trust issue.
Be accountable – Accept mistakes you have made, or instances where you were wrong. Acknowledging this helps build belief in you for your team; a strong leader always recognises that they are not always right.
Being accountable makes you more ‘human’ to your team who are then more likely to confide in you in the future.
See things from a different angle – Consider what the actions, perceived or otherwise, were that led to a breakdown in trust.
In the words of educator, businessman and best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr Stephen Covey; “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
By sharing viewpoints, you can see things differently, and come to an understanding that intention was not there or was different from what was imagined by the injured party.
Commitment to the future – Once different viewpoints have been discussed and acknowledged, the next step is to find common goals and agree to a commitment to a set of behaviours and actions moving forward.
As part of this process, it’s useful to initiate some form of regular feedback, so everyone is committed to developing collaboration for the future.
Demonstrate trust – Finally, remember that lost trust can take time to re-establish. Building it back up requires everyone concerned to acknowledge what has happened, agree to future working practices, follow through on commitments made as part of a restoration process and engage in the process to move towards rebuilding and motivating the team.
The dynamics of trust are delicate, and loss of faith within a business team can be costly, not just in terms of relationships, but financially too.
If your team is experiencing trust issues, it’s worth remembering that there is a solution – trust is not static – it is an ongoing, reciprocating agreement between individuals. If trust has been lost, it can always be restored.
If you are are looking to scale your team, or you’re an executive who is thinking about a change of role, we can help. With many years’ experience placing executive level candidates in their ideal job role, we can help create a smooth transition.
So, if you would like to work with an experienced recruiting partner, call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact here.
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