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5 Top Team Trust Tips

Teamwork combines the efforts, strengths and energy of a number of individuals to achieve optimum results.

Teamwork combines the efforts, strengths and energy of a number of individuals to achieve optimum results. However, a workforce is highly complex in nature and sustaining peak performance is not always easy. The workplace is peppered with a multitude of dynamics and tensions that can easily undermine effective teamwork. Dealing with these obstacles can be taxing and trust is vital in creating an environment where personal agendas are set aside in the pursuit of common goals.

Team trust is at the heart of true collaboration. It is the driving force behind productivity, growth and teamwork, increasing commitment and improving communication. So how can trust in the workplace be improved?

Clarify the team’s purpose and goals

A lack of clarity about team goals – or misunderstandings surrounding the goals and why they are important – can lead to mistrust, feelings of insecurity, and resentment. It is crucial that leaders clearly identify and explain the goals that the team is striving to reach, what future success will look like, and how it will be measured. It is worth remembering that it is not sufficient to communicate this only once, goals must be regularly revisited and developed as circumstances evolve, and performance must be measured to ensure the goals remain relevant.

Understand team members’ strengths and performance risks

As in Formula One, teams facing complex tasks and volatile, ever-changing operating conditions, rely on diverse strengths to succeed. Team members need to be energised by their relationships with each other to successfully plan strategies, execute plans, and build change capabilities and emotional resilience into the workplace. This is vital in coping with the constant flux of the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment. By openly sharing and learning how to fully leverage each other’s strengths, teams can achieve improved support, teamwork and accountability. But members of effective teams don’t just share and play to their strengths, they also build vulnerability based trust by acknowledging areas in which they need support. Research indicates that teams with better awareness of their strengths and performance risks (including weaker areas and overdone strengths) have a significant advantage, perform better and ultimately enjoy a more positive and trusting environment.

Consciously develop effective, open communication

Trust quickly breaks down when teams don’t clarify the ground rules for promoting effective, open communication. One of the biggest threats to trust is when a limited number of employees form an inner group, drowning out quieter and less pushy colleagues. To avoid this, it is important that everyone’s input is equally valued and people listen to their colleagues, especially those who are more introverted and less inclined to speak up when dominant team members are present. It is a myth that effective teams achieve harmonious discussions without debate. In fact, the best teams are those that value and appreciate diverse opinions and set aside egos in favor of the robust consideration of multiple perspectives.

Build change capability and ways to cope under pressure

Even the best crack under pressure, and tensions and mistrust can arise within any team. Employees can start blaming each other for mistakes and setbacks rather than working together to find solutions. It is vital for teams to learn how to anticipate changes using techniques like scenario planning and SWOT analysis. The best teams also learn to call on each other’s strengths, and those of people outside the team, when the going gets tough rather than attempting to be too self-reliant. Teams must stay focused on strengths, solutions and possibilities during these tough times, rather than allowing themselves to be dragged into the black hole of problems, weaknesses and shortcomings, which will ultimately drain positive energy and lead to a host of negative emotions and outcomes.

Celebrate and learn from success and setbacks

Winning teams share successes rather than taking personal credit for milestones and achievements that have arisen through collective effort. This builds a virtuous cycle of success and confidence, which further strengthens the team’s sense of achievement and feelings of trust and camaraderie. Equally, peak performing teams take time to learn from setbacks rather than pointing fingers and engaging in blame. This promotes an open learning culture where considered risk taking, experimentation and continuous improvement thrives and supports innovation and business growth.

Through effective teamwork, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary achievements that change their customers’ experiences and society for the better. Yet no team will become a peak performing one without a strong bedrock of trust where egos and insecurities give way to close collaboration and feelings of strength and confidence. By incorporating the above tips into their daily working practices, teams can achieve outstanding results and build a positive and energising work environment.

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