Building Trust Within Your Team

Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks. – Isaac Watts

Trust is a Necessity within a Team
After sharing my thoughts on building teams of integrity, I noticed more examples of integrity. So, this past week, I spent more time on the second step described in my article on highly effective teams, building trust. As Isaac Watts said, building trust is difficult. However, to lead successful teams, trust is a necessity. My short time in the Army has afforded me the wonderful opportunity to work with many different teams.  Each team took distinct steps to build trust amongst the team members. 
U.S. Army Soldiers with India Company, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment move through the terrain during a situational training exercise at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Grafenwoehr, Germany, on March 22, 2012. DoD photo by Gertrud Zach, U.S. Army. (Released)

Trust Through Training 
As I mentioned in my article on highly effective teams, trust is built when the team members sense and validate that each member of the team maintains a strong sense of integrity. However, in our daily routines, we are often concerned about completing our own daily assignments and it is often difficult to gain a sense of each team member’s integrity. As leaders, it is incumbent that we provide our teams the opportunities to showcase their integrity and form the bonds of trust necessary to build a strong team. Providing an external threat for your team, as Emanuelson and Willer explained, increase solidarity within the team. I believe that the best way to introduce an external threat in a controlled environment is through training. And, through training, a team builds trust. 

Training with Trust in Mind
You may already be putting your team through training, but how do you know that it is the right training. I have learned that proper training should be rigorous and realistic. 
  • Rigorous training causes your team to leave their comfort zones. When outside of your comfort zone, you are able to stress your systems. If you constantly train on what you are good at, you will not be able to determine the flaws in your team’s systems. By identifying and targeting systematic flaws, training can force team members to rely upon one another. When team members learn to rely upon one another, they validate each other’s integrity and build trust. 
  • Realistic training allows for constructive feedback. If your team perceives that the external pressures that you create are exaggerated, or if they are not given the proper tools to solve the training problem, you will not get their buy-in and full effort for the training. Without their ownership of the training objectives, you risk minimizing the lessons created by the training. Realistic training creates excitement and a shared experience that the team members can draw upon as evidence for trusting one another. 

Therefore, in order to create an environment that fosters trust, design a training plan that is rigorous and realistic. 

  1. What is limiting your ability to develop trust within your team?
  2. If you could plan the ultimate test for your team, without limitations, what would it look like?
  3. What rigorous and realistic training can you start today that will pay dividends in building trust within your team?
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