Have you ever had an experience where a team member is unwilling to admit mistakes? Or refuses to ask for help, or (gasp) to acknowledge that perhaps other team members are better at something than they are? Or even worse, the team member that is more concerned with looking out for themself than being a part of a team? If you have, you know that this type of behavior sucks the energy out of a team and derails any effort toward becoming a high-performing team.

Building trust among team members is one way to address this type of behavior. Teams with high levels of trust can largely avoid the kind of behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy and pulls the team down.

Trust lies at the heart of a highly functional and cohesive team. Yet, it is one of the most challenging team characteristics to achieve. It is also one of the most important. Trust among team members requires individual team members to be vulnerable with their fellow team members without fear of retribution or shame. Being vulnerable is hard for most of us – especially for type-A personalities and those who consider ourselves high-performing members of an organization. The idea of putting our vulnerabilities out there is not natural and is rarely rewarded, at least not in the ways that we expect.

This type of trust is rare because it is hard and takes time. But, like any good relationship, trust among team members requires effort and must be a deliberative focus of team development. A good place to start is to set aside time for a conversation with your team to provide the space for team members to think about and respond to the following questions. You might be surprised at what you learn.

1. What words would you use to describe trust? Transparent, open, accessible, honest, and authentic are some prompts that may help start the discussion.
2. Ask team members to finish the following sentence: “There would be more trust among our team if we did the following _________.”

We hope you found this insight into team trust helpful. Trust is the first fundamental we dive into during our team workshop series, based on our 25+ years of experience and Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team model. Throughout the workshops, we cover various topics, including building trust, fostering healthy conflict, establishing team commitment to decisions and plans of action, creating individual and team accountability, and focusing on the achievement of collective results. Message us to learn more.