The Power of Trust in Teams

Let’s explore…

What is a team?

A team is a group of people with a set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job or project. The individual’s shared commitment can lead to a powerful unit of collective performance. 

High performing teams have team members who operate with a high degree of interdependence, share authority and responsibility for self-management, are accountable for the collective performance and work toward a common goal. 

To be a high performing team the critical factor to team performance is trust.

What is Trust? 

Trust within teams is the confidence that team members hold in one another’s reliability and commitment to shared goals.  It fosters an environment where individuals feel safe to express ideas, collaborate openly and learn from mistakes, ultimately enhancing team cohesion and productivity.

Trust enables effective communication, accountability and a sense of collective responsibility, driving the team towards successful outcomes.

The power of Trust – Productivity

Trust establishes a foundation of psychological safety, where team members feel safe to take risks and express their ideas freely improving productivity.  High levels of trust lead to increased collaboration and team members are more likely to work together if they know they can count on and rely upon their teammates.  They are also more likely to offer their time and resources to support the team, pool individual talents and encourage innovation, which also result in increased productivity.

Team members don’t need to feel guarded and can discuss the most important topics eg not hiding the elephant in the room or avoiding uncomfortable conversations. 

The power of Trust – Cohesive

Trust creates a sense of unity and mutual support amongst team members preventing escalating conflicts from eroding team cohesiveness. It increases team morale by creating a positive team environment where members feel valued and supported, reinforcing their commitment to the team’s goals. Trust also fosters stronger interpersonal bonds among team members, resulting in greater cohesiveness.

The power of Trust – Outcomes

When trust is established, team members are more willing to admit their limitations and share uncertainties knowing their colleagues will support and guide them.  Trusting teams have the ability to create an environment where individuals feel safe to be vulnerable, make mistakes, and engage in learning experiences without fear of negative consequences.  This vulnerability fosters a culture of continuous learning, enabling teams to openly analyse mistakes.  They can adapt strategies, leading to personal and collective growth and improved problem-solving capabilities

The power of Trust – Creativity

Trust significantly impacts participants’ contributions by fostering an environment where they feel comfortable sharing ideas, collaborating openly, and committing to collective goals.  When trust is prevalent, team members are more likely to actively engage, offer their unique perspectives, and contribute their expertise. Trust empowers participants by reducing fear of judgment, encouraging risk-taking, and promoting a sense of ownership…leading to higher levels of commitment and meaningful contributions.

The power of trust – Accountability

Trust within teams extends to accountability and results, which are closely linked to concepts serve as the foundation for achieving desired outcomes. 

Accountability is a key component because when individuals are accountable for their actions, it reinforces the belief they can be relied upon. This commitment paves the way as team members feel a sense of responsibility not only to themselves but to each other. Being accountable demonstrates integrity and reliability, which in turn strengthens trust. Individuals are more likely to take ownership of their tasks and hold themselves and their colleagues accountable leading to enhanced team performance and goal attainment.

The power of Trust – Wellbeing

Trust significantly impacts overall wellbeing by creating a supportive and positive atmosphere where individuals feel valued, respected, and psychologically secure.  When trust is strong, team members experience reduced stress and anxiety, as they can confidently rely on their colleagues for assistance and collaboration.  This sense of belonging and emotional safety enhances job satisfaction, promotes mental and emotional health, and encourages open communication, ultimately contributing to a higher level of overall well being among team members.

What happens when there is Distrust?

Without trust there can be significant negative effects on various aspects of the overall dynamic and performance.  Distrust can lead to breakdowns in communication, hinder collaboration, and create an environment where team members are reluctant to share ideas or information.  This lack of openness can result in poor decision-making, decreased innovation, and lowered morale.

Distrust erodes accountability as team members may hesitate to take ownership of their responsibilities or hold others accountable due to a lack of faith in their colleagues’ intentions or abilities. This can lead to a lack of commitment to shared goals, decreased productivity and impede the team’s ability to achieve desired results.

Distrust and relationships

An atmosphere of toxicity can manifest in the absence of mutual trust. Toxicity can be characterised by suspicion, rivalry and internal conflicts. 

Distrust in relationships can exacerbate existing issues and contribute to new issues including high turnover rates, low job satisfaction, and an overall negative impact on well-being. Distrust and poor relationships impact heavily on team dynamics.

How do you build Trust?

Let’s think about some of the behaviours that build trust…. Here are some examples  to consider: 

You can take an inventory of your trustworthy behaviours such as:

  • Act with integrity – commit to uphold strong moral principles and ethical behaviour.
  • Admit mistakes.
  • Be honest and truthful.
  • Be approachable.
  • Right wrongs and go the extra mile – remember you are setting an example for the rest of the team.
  • Hold people accountable Show empathy and be present.

To summarise, trust within teams is an intricate web of interrelated factors that encompass not only effective communication but also time, consistency and shared experiences.  Trust often begins with small gestures and actions that demonstrate reliability and integrity.

Fostering trust creates an environment of improved performance, higher morale, and better problem-solving capabilities by reducing misunderstandings, and fostering a deep sense of unity. Trust-driven communication allows team members to rely on each other’s commitments and expertise, ultimately leading to a more efficient and output-driven team dynamic.