Having trust is one of the fundamental basics for working well together as a team. Without trust communication is broken, workflows aren’t smooth, and members of your team aren’t aligned.
Just imagine going to visit a service professional (lawyer, doctor, coach) without really trusting that they know what they’re doing. You’re going to be skeptical, doubtful, you might have an intuitive reaction in your gut that something feels off, you won’t want to share what you know openly or transparently because you don’t know what they’ll do with that information, and you may feel your energy level draining as a result.
Trust in teams works the same way. Without it, it’s draining, exhausting, and you run into a myriad of challenging situations, over-strategizing and games. When your team does have trust, however, people work together almost effortlessly, communication flows, work gets done, and you can see a level of commitment and accountability to projects.
That being said, it can be challenging to know exactly how to build up trust with your team when working remotely.
Here are 4 ways you can build trust with your team today:
- Show up consistently – Let your team know how and when they can get in touch with you and make yourself available to them at regular times (e.g. every Monday morning for the team meeting or establish “office hours” every Wednesday from 3PM – 5PM). Being consistent will give your team the security of knowing they can reach you when they need - and that they are able to get support on a regular basis.
- Be honest and transparent about what you know (and what you don’t). Your team relies on you to share important and timely information about what is going on in their work and with the company. Share what you know, be transparent, and be honest when you don’t know the answer to something. If you are withholding information they will likely sense that you aren’t being totally honest, and it will impact their trust. Of course, there may be things you are not yet at liberty to share and you can be honest about that as well, by letting them know some new decisions are in the works and you’ll let them know as soon as you’re able.
- Give timely and regular feedback – Your team wants to know how they are performing, if you are happy with the results, or if they can do anything better or differently. Without feedback they may feel anxious, self-conscious, or like their work isn’t meeting your standards or the needs of the organization. Make it a point to give your team regular feedback about what they are doing well and where they could further develop. Let them know where they stand and how you feel about their work and try to remain objective while doing so.
- Ask your team what they need to be able to do their work well. Some members of the team might need more regular 1:1 check-ins with you, others might need less. Some might want to have consistent team meetings to know what everyone else is up to. Others might need more (or less) feedback to know if they are on track. Ask your team what they need from you, and each other, to be able to get their work done – and work together to figure out how to put it into practice.
These four strategies will not only help you build up trust with your team, but will also help you to trust that your team has what they need to get their work done and to feel confident in their roles. The highest performing teams operate on a baseline of trust before they can move on to anything else – and it is possible to remain high performing, even when working remotely.
Once you've given some of these strategies a try, please share what you learn as a result.
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