What is the importance of trust when building a high performing team?

20 Dec

Trust is the corporate lubricant of success. Trust is the foundation of any relationship and every high performing team or organization. If there is no trust, the rest is much harder to accomplish. Yet, at the same time trust often feels as something that is not tangible and it is nothing you can do something with.

There are two lenses to approach trust. First there is trust as an assessment. It implies that you start with little or no trust, and you assess based on the other’s performance or behavior if they are worthy of your trust. When we look at trust as an assessment, you assess the other’s performance and behavior at four levels:


  • Are they competent to fulfill their promise? Are they knowledgeable and do they have the skills, can they assess their capacity and not overload themselves, and can they assess duration by accurately timing how long it will take? These are all questions that you can check to see if the other person is competetent.



  • Have they been reliable in fulfilling their promises in the past?



  • Do they make sincere promises?



  • Are we aligned in our ethics and values?


This view will allow you to always trace back where a particular breakdown happens and point out to the other person why you don’t trust their actions in a certain area. However, if you only build trust via assessment, it will always make you wonder, and the moment one of you breaks one promise you often have to start building up trust again from square one. This by itself is no way to build up a high performing team.

That is why if you are interested in building a high performing team, you have to build authentic trust, the second lens to look at trust. For example, just look at a relation you have with a significant other. You don’t constantly look at that person to rebuild trust every time they miss fulfilling a promise. And yes, we all break promises, even you. Why do these instances not break trust with the significant other? Because you know that this person has your best interest at heart, and you trust that they did everything possible to make it happen. In other words you have authentic trust with that person.

This is trust that you give, and you can build it in every relation. This happens in your ability to have authentic conversations, which will allow you to rebuild and recalibrate trust when a promise is broken. In an authentic conversation you create a shared understanding about the concerns and commitments you are pursuing and how current behaviors and broken promises are preventing you from achieving your shared commitment. The basic premise is that trust ultimately lives in our spoken and unspoken conversations. Our ability to break through the unspoken conversations, will allow you to build authentic trust.

There are several blogs on this site that will show you how you can build trust through conversations. The key point is that trust is a major driver for a high performing organization, and it is something that you can create, nurture and maintain.



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