How to Build Trust with Your Team [5 Effective Methods]

Managing a team of people is a challenging task to take on due to the different personalities to manage. When they don’t trust each other, it’s a draining task. Below we explore how you can build trust your team.

A team of members who don’t trust each other barely ever makes any progress. This stems from refusing to share knowledge, fighting over who should do what and generally failing to collaborate with one another. No matter how skilled or talented your people are they can’t make any substantial achievement, let alone reach their full potential if you, as a leader, don’t build trust with your team.

Lack of trust in a team hinders all stages of productivity – from creativity to execution to cooperation –  as people spend more time pursuing their personal interests than aiming for the team’s goals.

With trust present in a team, each individual member becomes freer and more inclined to put their personal interests aside and focus on how best to become part of an effective, cohesive group. This is what helps teams not only achieve truly meaningful goals but also surpass their own expectations.

So how can you, as a leader, go about helping your team to build the trust that it needs to achieve its highest potential? Here are the top five effective ways to build trust with your team.

Lead by example

Leading by example is the first step to building trust with your team. Keep in mind that your team members are always looking up to you for clues on how to carry themselves. So if you want them to know that trust is a priority, show them you trust others – subordinates, colleagues, and bosses alike.

Set a great example for your team members by following through on the promises you make, showing up on time for meetings (whether physical or virtual), and always letting your team members know when you’ll be absent. Such efforts build trust quickly, and can raise the whole team’s expectations.

Encourage open communication

Open communication is also key to build trust with your team. It’s vital for you, as a leader, to create a culture and environment where everyone on your team communicates in an honest, meaningful way.

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You can do this by dedicating the first meeting you have as a team to the exercise of collectively defining and discussing the expectations and responsibilities of each team member. Make sure everyone gets to contribute suggestions and ask questions.

Then you can organise some team building exercises to help “break the ice” and catalyse the process of your people forming the necessary team bonds.

Furthermore, you need to keep your team informed because open communication applies to you too, as the leader. If you want to show how important it is to you, you have to share with your team whatever vital information you come across in a timely manner.

The more you share with your team members, showing they needn’t worry about nasty surprises, the easier they will trust you and each other.

Foster personal relationships

Another way to build trust with your team is to encourage personal bonds among your team members, where they see their coworkers as human beings not just the roles they play in the team. This starts with you as a leader showing them a bit of the human beneath the title.

You can do this by making it a habit to greet them and chat about a non-work interest you share with them such as a mutual sports team.

Hanging out after work, during lunch breaks or on the weekends as well as conducting regular team building exercises also encourage and enable the formation of strong personal relationships.

Handle mistakes tactfully

When people collaborate, it’s natural for an honest mistake to happen from time to time. It’s also easy to focus on blaming the person who has made the mistake. However, when fingers start getting pointed, it’s easy for a low morale atmosphere to develop as people fear the repercussions of making a mistake.

When a mistake happens, you should step up as a leaser and shoulder the blame as you encourage the employee who made it to share what they have learned from it. Encourage the whole team to see the mistake as a learning opportunity, brainstorming how to fix it and keep it from happening again.

This is even more important for your own mistakes as the leaders. Demonstrate your capability to be vulnerable by consistently admitting to your mistakes, asking your team for their suggestions on how correct them and make sure to always show sincere gratitude to those members who share their ideas.

build trust with your team

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Tackle the big issues head-on

Do not shy away from difficult decisions or allow them to linger because when they land in your arena, your team is watching to see if you have the moral strength to step up and face them. And the longer you take to act on them, the less credible you become as it appears like you’re scared and/or confused.

Difficult decisions such as letting go of a highly talented employee who doesn’t work well with the rest of the team are your opportunities to show team members that your words really do match your actions – that you’re actually willing to walk your talk and make the tough decisions they need when necessary.

Consistently stepping up to such big issues raises your team’s confidence in you as a leader and increases their trust in both you and each other because they know that you will always strive and stand for the fair workplace environment they need to do their jobs excellently.

In Summary

Trust is vital for team productivity. Without it, you’re not very likely to get any substantial results from your efforts as a team. But when you have, you’re very likely to outperform your own expectations.

This is why in your role as a manager, you should always make efforts to build trust with your team.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.