Is Trust an Important Factor in Team Effectiveness?


The short answer is yes.  Trust is crucial to team effectiveness and is the foundation of the entire team dynamic.  Without trust a team will implode with conflicts or will fail to produce creative and innovative outcomes.    Let’s look at why trust is so important and how you can encourage trust in your teams.

The Importance of Trust

In a team atmosphere trust is vital.  Members of the team must believe in the skills and abilities of the other members of the team in order to give their best effort without resentment.  The team as a whole must have trust in the organization and believe that their work is appreciated.  Most importantly they must trust that their creativity is wanted and welcome in order to be innovative.

Trust is related to positive outcomes in many ways.  Here are some of the most important of them.

  • Trust Encourages Risk Taking – Challenging the normal way “things are done around here” to propose innovative alternatives takes risk.  Without trust the team won’t take that leap.
  •  Trust Facilitates Information Sharing – Open dialogue doesn’t happen unless the members of the team trust one another and believe in the confidential nature of the thoughts they share.
  • Trust Encourages Collaboration – If your team doesn’t trust each other they will be suspicious of one another and will be careful to protect themselves.  There’s no way they will collaborate effectively if they are focused on watching their backs.
  • Trust Enhances Productivity – Productivity on a team requires setting aside your own personal goals and achievement and working together for the common goal of the team.  When a team trusts each other and believes in the commitment of every member to the goal the team is free to work together productively.

How Can You Develop Trust Within Your Team?

It is up to you to create a trusting atmosphere in your organization.  As a leader, you set the tone for the employees who work with you.  Your dedication to integrity and your willingness to act in the best interests of your organization and your team is the foundation of a trusting atmosphere.

Trust develops over time.   The sometimes silly team building events that involve retreats or physical challenges are designed to allow members of a team time to interact in a non-threatening atmosphere and develop relationships based on character issues rather than work performance.  These activities are a good starting point for your team.

You can encourage trust in your team by interacting with each member of the team fairly and equally.  Don’t tolerate someone on the team complaining about the actions of another team member.  Require the team to solve interpersonal conflicts themselves first and only escalate issues that are too big to handle.  If you have to step in and resolve an issue, be fair and impartial as much as possible.

Above all, allow the team time to not only work together but to play together.  Shared time and experience builds trust most effectively.  Celebrate team wins, even minor ones, regularly.  Reward the team as a group after a period of intense productivity and let them relax together and enjoy the reward.  Over time you will see the team become a trusting, cohesive, and very effective group.

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