Build Your Team by Building Trust

Building & Leading High-Performance Teams | Illustration: Norman Gracia

For managers with team responsibilities, the failure to generate trust is a recipe for disaster, leading to stress, conflict and lower productivity. | Illustration: Norman Gracia

As AI, automation and other technologies continue to gain traction, global firms will increasingly rely on the caliber of their talent pool as a source of competitive advantage. In this new landscape, team dynamics – defined as the unconscious system of behaviors and psychological processes within social groups – will be key to maximizing creativity, productivity and effectiveness.

Like most relationships, optimal team dynamics don’t emerge on their own. Rather, they must be continuously nurtured in order to foster a climate of commitment, collaboration and trust.

For managers with team responsibilities, the failure to generate trust is a recipe for disaster, leading to stress, conflict and lower productivity. While there are no sure-fire formulas, Prof. Anneloes Raes of IESE’s Managing People in Organizations Department offers managers a few guidelines to build trust with their teams:

1. View trust as a long-term dividend

Trust isn’t automatically conferred with a job title. It’s forged slowly with each and every interaction so it’s important for decision managers to take a long-term view.

2. Take a trust litmus test

Managers will never fully leverage their team’s collective expertise if members don’t feel safe voicing their opinions. They can gauge the potential level of toxicity and fear by inquiring about their views on the work atmosphere and corporate culture, and observing their willingness to weigh in.

3. Trust starts and ends with you

As writer Ernest Hemingway observed, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Effective leaders follow the “give trust to get trust” maxim. As ultimate role models, they fulfill their commitments on time and show their trust in others by delegating decisions to the team. 

4. Ensuring alignment

The success of organizational teams depends on uniting the team around a common goal, but is everyone really on board? Managers can boost alignment by giving their team a “big picture” view, communicating how the project dovetails with the firm’s overall strategy and being as transparent as possible about corporate performance.

5. Sharing power

Far from micromanagers, good team leaders regularly give away their authority and own up to their mistakes. When necessary, they shield the team if others fall short of the mark.

6. Building engagement

Team leaders can build trust and optimize team dynamics by regularly organizing initiatives and ensuring accessible, open lines of communication in all directions.

7. Sustaining trust

As the saying goes, “Trust is a fragile thing. Easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to ever get back.” Once earned, trust should never be relegated to automatic pilot mode.

Building and Leading High-Performance Teams” is a dynamic three-day program designed for managers with team-leadership responsibilities. The next edition will take place from February 25-27, 2020, on IESE’s Barcelona campus.

Written by business communicator and editor Suzanne Hogseth

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