Technology is rapidly changing who we trust and how we get to that point, and in a world where teams are working remotely, leaders need to understand how trust is built even when time spent face-to-face is minimal.
A team without trust isn’t a team: it’s just a group of people, working together, often making poor progress. They may not share information, they might battle over roles and responsibilities, and they may not cooperate. It doesn’t matter how capable or talented your people are, they may never reach their full potential if there’s no trust.
When trust within a team exists, individuals becomes stronger because they are part of an effective, cohesive group. When people trust one another, the group enters high-performance, there’s more energy, productivity skyrockets and more productive collaboration sees teams achieving goals with ease.
“In my research I’ve found that building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance.*”
Paul Zak, neuroeconomist
Within his research, Paul Zаk discovered oxytocin, a chemical in the brain iѕ responsible for hоw muсh truѕt реорlе hаvе for оthеr реорlе оr соrроrаtiоnѕ. Within his experiment thе аmоunt оf mоnеу реорlе rесеivеd (which iѕ аn indiсаtiоn оf truѕt оn thе part of thе ѕеndеrѕ аѕ the highеr the amount, the higher thе level оf trust еxhibitеd bу thе sender) wаѕ dirесtlу рrороrtiоnаl tо the аmоunt оf оxуtосin rеlеаѕеd bу thеir brаin.
Stephen Covey’s four primary building blocks of trust further defines how to expand upon the cognitive and affective parts of trust.
We have all been on teams where the members were fun, engaging people but not capable of getting the job done, nor have they been able to communicate properly.
In a virtual team you have more to lose when leadership is inconsistent: messages are misplaced, people are unclear how to proceed, and confusion prevails. How you remain consistent in the delivery of messages and information drives a significant part of team success.
Every workplace has seen demonstrations of compassion, but your virtual team members need your compassion, not only during times when “life challenges” are being faced. Everyone on a virtual team is making adjustments to different rhythms, physically isolated environments and shifting sets of expectations.
Your virtual teams need to be absolutely sure of your commitment as a leader to them as a team and to the resources needed to help make them effective. Individuals in virtual teams need to know you are committed. It can be easy to lose sight of ‘you’ when you are typically represented by a string of characters on an email. Demote the use of email and pick up the phone, send a Skype invitation, look your employee in the eyes.
Trust is a process
According to Rachel Botsman, author of Who Can You Trust?, trust requires a continual process of proving trustworthiness. It’s not an attribute that one can assign to themselves without having earned it in the first place.
But to earn it, you have to give it first. For example, people are employed because they have the right skills and experience. Once someone begins within your team, you need to trust them to handle their role and its responsibilities. Resist the urge to micromanage and allow them to mаnаgе реорlе аnd ассоmрliѕh tasks in thеir оwn wау аnd ѕtуlе.
Many may think it’s harder to establish trust in dispersed teams, but it is only hard when you don’t know where trust comes from and how to build it.
*To find out more, visit https://www.cleverism.com/the-neuroscience-of-trust/