“If I had to pick the one thing to get right about any collaborative effort, I would choose trust. Yes, trust. More than incentives, technology, roles, missions, or structures, it is trust that makes collaboration really work. There can be collaboration without it, but it won’t be very productive or sustainable in the long run.”
– Larry Prusak, Senior Advisor and Faculty, Columbia University, Author, Working Knowledge
Managing a team that is distant and working remotely requires the kind of training that is slow and arduous.
Throw in the never-ending Covid-19 crisis, the already declining trust levels in the team can come crashing down.
Building and maintaining trust in remote teams is the need of the hour.
With uncertainty comes the resistance to expend energy.
This is why employees have started with holding expending energy into teams. And they will continue to feel this growing resistance till the time they feel safe.
Why would they put in all their energies while feeling like they’re walking through sludge?
Trust building is the solution.
But how to build team trust?
It takes time to get anything done.
Miscommunication – as a result of sudden remote work culture – has become common.
Meetings that follow miscommunication and misunderstanding to sort out differences only slows down decision-making. And avoiding accountability results in even more conflict.
While everyone is learning to cope up with the new work culture, building your team’s trust levels has become more important than ever.
However, it is easier said than done, especially when teams are working remotely because maintaining trust is much easier in person.
Because humans have an odd tendency to only believe something is true if they can see it.
The mindset of leaders and team managers to only think team members are working if they can see them work, is to blame. This underlying mindset and limiting belief needs to change.
This limiting belief is exactly why remote work couldn’t really take off in the past.
It’s inevitable for leaders to let go of the reins and trust that their teammates are getting work done.
That’s the foundation of trust building in remote teams. This is how you build team trust.
For this to happen, leaders need to adapt and change their limiting mindsets.
How to build team trust- Stop basing teammates’ performance on whether they’re seated at their desk from 9-5
Give it a thought: As long as they can attend important meetings and produce the work required, it shouldn’t matter whether your teammates are working 9-5 or they’re choosing their own unique work schedules.
According to a report published in The New York Times , flexible schedules play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.
How to build team trust- Stop micromanaging when people aren’t visible
Give it a thought: Micromanaging sends an unintentional message to employees that they’re not trusted. The result is burned out and anxious employees who feel a strong urge to demonstrate their efforts and contribution.
According to author Harry Chambers in his book My Way or the Highway, “it is interesting that confusion and being unsure is what causes managers to micromanage in order to try to control the situation, but consequently, since micromanagers usually don’t provide clear direction or establish clear expectations it is a losing situation. Micromanagers expect employees to be able to read their minds and that leads to employees feeling like failures because they’re not mind readers.”
How to build team trust- Be self-aware and have the right tools
Give it a thought: Visibility can be improved through time tracking and project management software like KonarkPro that makes progress visible to all and helps in building trust.
How to build team trust- Change their behaviors, mindsets, beliefs, and communication styles
Give it a thought: The limiting belief that teammates are working only if and when they are visible or hyper vigilant ends makes employees feel burned out since they feel the pressure to constantly prove themselves. In no way would this behavior help in building trust.
If you’re a team leader, there are two areas that you need to focus on to build trust in your team.
Foster transparency and accessibility
Trust building starts with transparency.
Ensure that you document and share as much information as possible, including meeting agendas & notes, regular updates, goals, expectations, etc, in order to provide clear context.
How accessible are you to your teammates?
Since it’s impossible to see and talk to people daily while working remotely, try and fix a time when your teammates can get in touch with you.
Enable team members to trust each other
An excellent way to do this is by creating opportunities for your teammates to learn about each other and discover similar interests outside of work.
Encourage social interaction for trust building. Have virtual coffee chats where teammates bond and chat over coffee or meals.
In a team where you have different people with different personalities and working styles thrown together, trust building starts with keeping them all united. On an individual level, you can connect each team member’s contribution to the value it brings to the team.
Without clarity of thinking and communication, we tend to not trust a situation.
Remote teammates expect their team leaders to communicate their thoughts on important issues, remind them of the common team goal as well as individual goals, and create clear expectations or agreements.
Leaders who fail to build or maintain trust in their teams end up slowing things down that we can no longer endure in the fast paced world that we live and work in today.
The payoff of high trust leaders is staggering.
High trust teams have over twice the revenue generation of low trust teams!
In these difficult times, high trust organizations and teams who know how to build team trust are more likely to adapt and survive.
KonarkPro lets you manage your remote teams by promoting trust and transparency like never before.