Creating More Trust Within Your Team

Culture has become the new competitive advantage in today’s workplace. 

Why? At the end of the day, people are loyal to culture over strategy. Culture is one of the greatest influences for attracting and keeping talented people.  And your people are your most important asset.  

There is no “one size fits all formula” for creating a thriving culture, as every organization is unique, but establishing a strong foundation of trust and openness is essential to any team.  

When every team member is encouraged, supported and empowered to become the best that they can be, it positively impacts everyone.  Investing time and attention on employees creates mutual buy-in for creating extraordinary results. When employees’ voices are heard and acknowledged, it creates enthusiasm to “co-create” an organization that excels.

I imagine that many leaders would agree with these statements, but it’s a different story when you examine how creating this type of environment is put into practice.  

I have personally experienced and watched friends, family, & clients experience leaders that desire trust within their teams, but then end up: 

  • micro-managing

  • avoiding tough conversations and providing consistent feedback

  • believing they have all the answers 

  • not setting clear expectations

  • not prioritizing getting to know and developing their employees

There are several simple steps that every leader can take in order to begin establishing more trust and openness within the team: 
  • Establish clear inter-subjective truths with your team 

There are multiple versions of “truth”.  Objective truths can be measured and validated.  Subjective truths are based entirely on the perspective of the individual.  Inter-subjective truths encompass the things that are true because WE as a group agree they are true.   Is everyone on your team on the same page about: how you define quality work, expected time-frames to complete projects, what is considered “going the extra mile”, acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, etc. 

Inter-subjective truths can be heavily influenced by a team’s agreed-upon core values. When team members have the ability to share their thoughts and speak into the inter-subjective truths and then come to mutual decisions on what’s best for the group, increased collaboration and team effectiveness results.     

  • Use the coach-approach over micro-managing 

Coaching an employee invites him/her into an equal role to brainstorm and determine solutions to challenges as well as to identify improvement points, rather than being directed on what to do.  Once you set desired outcomes and expectations with the employee, the greatest thing you can do for his/her development is to let him/her then determine HOW they are going to meet the expectations. 

The next time an employee comes to you with a problem and asks, “What should I do?” or “How do you want this done?” Feel free to clarify any confusion on the expectation, but then ask them, “What are your ideas?” and “What are the pros and cons to your ideas?” and “What would need to happen for you to get this project done on time and to the best of your ability?” and “What else do you need to consider?”  Utilizing coaching will encourage your team members to solve their own problems and become more resourceful as well as empower them to take ownership to do their best work.  

  • Practice accountability for yourself and others 

The culture of any team is a reflection of the values and behaviors of its leader.  If you do not walk your talk, if you are inconsistent, if you are not honest, how can you expect your team members to be?  Admit when you make a mistake or when you are facing a challenge.  Your honesty and subsequent accountability will show your team that it is better to be open than to fake perfection.

Sheryl Sandburg, CEO of Facebook, says, True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed. Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”  

You must also remove any blame from within your team.  You will create a more solution-focused approach to resolving conflicts and challenges within your team, when you embrace the following concept: Everyone has 100% contributed to our challenges and no one is to blame.  We are all responsible for creating our desired outcomes.   

You can also ask your team what they need in order to create more trust within the group.  You do not have to agree with everything they think, but they can still be heard and acknowledged.  

Cultures that are built on this strong foundation of openness and trust provide the ultimate competitive advantage as they create engaged employees where everyone has the ability to make a difference in their work.  

How do you intentionally build trust within your team? Share with us in the comments. 


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