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Trust in Teams – Communication in Management

Introduction: Trust in Teams

This is a message to all of you who are in management who want to build trust in teams. The overarching category which encompasses today’s article is – communication in management.

And here’s why important it is to you, your teams and your business:

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.

So if you:

  • In management?
  • Deal with teams?
  • Are building a team?
  • Have been recently been promoted or in a situation where you are managing people? 

Then you’re going to love this particular article. 

Remember, the key focus here is building trust in teams through communication

It’s a topic that seems to be coming up a lot for people either going into that role or may have been thrown into it and are struggling to maintain the trust.

Particularly in the last year as Covid has fractured a lot of teams, people have had to come back together remotely from the different locations but hanging out in Zoom.

New teams coming together may not have built a rapport with each other yet to develop that trust, which is also challenging. 

Communication is such a subtle thing that you as an individual or a manager, if you’re one degree off someone may be thinking:

Do I trust that person? Should I trust that person?

Or it might be mistrust across the team itself due to communication. 

Here are four steps I think you would find extremely useful in building trust in teams. 

Build Trust in Teams through: Modelling

I’ve used what I will share with you, over the years with countless people all over the world now. Now I am privileged to de-code these learnings and present them to you.

Let’s get into it. One of the things that you’ve got to remember with any team is that if you’re at a managerial level people tend to Model:

  • You as an individual
  • The way your business operates
  • How your company and structure operates
  • Your set of ethics
  • And your set of values

These can be demonstrated physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, communicatively – and people model that.

That’s what you want.

You want people within the company to model the core value you’re bringing to the table – Communication being one of those. 

Dr Rohan Weerasinghe

The same thing with families it’s built into us to aspire to or model other people that we think have a great set of values, that we connect with but also give us inspiration.

Demonstrate your Qualities

I really want to emphasise that point first, building trust in teams doesn’t come from you. 

The trust comes from you demonstrating the qualities of what trust is. 

A great exercise to do is to sit down and take the time to actually work out for you what it means to build trust in order to trust somebody.

Here are some fantastic questions to help you with this exercise:

  1. When do you feel that you trust another person?
  2. If you had a mentor or leaders around you how do you know that you trust those people?
  3. What do they demonstrate to you in order for you to feel that you trust them?
  4. Then within the team how do people trust each other? 
trust in teams
Remember we’re all human and it’s trust that connects us.

This exercise is essential because it allows you to essentially communicate what you capture on paper – through yourself.

Build trust in teams through: Preparation

In my communications system there is a section called preparation and one of the key takeaways from this section is – you have to really get clear on what your message is.

As part of that preparation you are identifying:

  • What do you want your team to be able to feel trustworthy about?
  • Identify the outcome you want to have from your communication?
  • HIghlight the trust elements that you want to build? For example – Is it being able to lean on each other?
  • Do you want to build trust that you’re going to steer the company/team in the right direction?
  • Is it to trust that you trust in them enough to do their own role autonomosily?
  • Can they trust that when you say something you’re going to see it through? 

These are all aspects of trust, that you can prepare for in advance of any communication.

If you understand the definition in your mind of what trust is. Then within a team, you can start to show up that way and let them know that (remember back to the modelling section).

For example, when I’m doing live Communication Events events I ask for a strong connection with my audience. I say I want you to trust me. I’m going to be direct with you. Will you allow me to do that and will you be the same with me?

Then I follow through on my promise to maintain that trust. Which leads us onto the next section in building trust in teams.

Create a Connection

Another part of my Communication System is connection.

For a lot of people they’re so focused on themselves and how do I get my information right?

They forget to connect with the other person. Which comes down to two aspects:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Building Rapport

Remember for your team to feel they can trust each other there’s got to be some base level of connection between them and you’ve got to create the environment for that.

Whether you:

  • Create a social environment first
  • Create an open space environment where people are always in contact with each other
  • Maybe prior to a formal meeting, you go into a more relaxed dialogue before you shift to a more formal environment/dialogue

Whichever way you decide:

Something has to happen where the team feels comfortable with each other and trust builds up. That connection can in different ways, for example, it can – be to do with sport, socially, families, a common interest. Ultimately whatever you feel is appropriate for your team.

This is similar to the previous section, where you’ll take the time to think about – what you can do to connect with people.

Not necessarily from a work perspective but from a human perspective. For example – What are their values and who do they each aspire to be/do? 

Important: Be authentic in your approach

In order for trust to be built up part of the modelling process is that you as an individual have to say:

What do I need to do to show up as myself in an authentic way. Then explaining to your team you’d like them to also show up as themselves in an authentic way”.

For example, if you have one person who is quite direct that’s okay. There is no point in them trying not to be direct, but everyone needs to know that this is how this person shows up as their authentic self. Remember there is a difference between being direct and being rude.

The minute you start to create authenticity at this level – each person in your team is able to come to the table being themselves.

Now everything changes because you’ve got trust.

“I don’t have to be anything different to who I am and I trust that my team leader, my boss is going to be able to be that way with me and I can be that way with them.”

Of course that typically doesn’t happen in leadership.

A lot of people drive the business or manage through fear or dictatorship. Which creates a completely different type of team. Where you don’t get authentic trust.

There is a not so subtle difference in both approaches. 

Final Note

Communication and building trust in teams isn’t a one and done task. It’s an ongoing process that you’ll get better at over time. But it’s important to not – the work from a management perspective continues. The best way to do this is through continuing to maintain rapport with people.

For now, that’s it. Remember to do the exercises mentioned. Which includes taking the time to think about what you’re doing right now and what you’re not doing. So you can start to improve the way you build trust in teams through communication.

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