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How to Develop Team Trust

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

One (but not the only) common thread among successful project teams is the ability for team members to trust one another. Not just trust each other in the sense that they can do the job, but that they will do the job and make the right decisions. Here are some tips on how to develop and foster team trust.

Clear Roles & Responsibilities

Make sure everyone understands what they need to do and what they are responsible for bringing to the team (and project). Without this there is zero chance of project success, let alone building team trust. You as the leader of your project need to ensure that every team member is responsible for understanding what they are responsible (and accountable) for. And by seeing what everyone else is responsible for, each team member can help understand what their role is bringing to the table and how they can help their team members and how their team members can help them.

Make Goals about the Team, Not the Individual

Projects are about results. Results are the result of goals. As the leader of your project it’s important to set goals that are team-focused and not about the individuals. Yes, tasks are assigned and achieved at the individual level, but they are all in support of the team’s goals. Make the goals visible and about what the team needs to accomplish to be successful. By having team-centric goals and knowing what everyone is bringing to the team in order to achieve these goals, team members will continue to foster (and generate) that essential trust between one another.

Everyone is Accountable

Nothing will shake confidence in leadership quicker than a perceived difference in how accountable each team member is. As the leader it is your job to ensure that everyone understand that they are accountable for what they bring to the team and how they are to contribute to the team’s goals. Each team member will have a level of authority (determining estimates, managing their time, etc.) but with that authority needs to come a commensurate level of accountability. This does not mean that any team member is less accountable to what they commit to or are responsible for but it does mean that the level of accountability needs to be consistent with the level of authority for which that team member has.

Teams are built on trust. Without trust you simply have a group of individuals working on itemized tasks hoping to achieve something greater. Teams that trust each other know that if they pull their weight and do their part that their team members will come through for them as well. As leaders it’s our job to foster an environment where trust can flourish.


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