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Trust : A key factor for high performing teams and organizations

Updated: Dec 26, 2021

Trust is often a heavy word packed with huge quantum of emotions and Feelings. It takes our minds to good and bad memory lanes.

Great teams always have trust as a precursor to team performance, efficiency and bonding. Forms of trust could be viewed broadly affecting individuals and teams.

Two key aspects of trust could be analyzed as below: -

  1. Trust within the employees

  2. Trust of employees with the organizational framework

Trust building within the employees- teams.

We should never assume there is trust, and if it’s not there we need to take necessary action to create it! Trust starts with knowing each other in a team and in being vulnerable. This will enable us to understand each other’s viewpoints, personality types, likes and dislikes, style of working, vulnerabilities and strong points this is true to small teams in particular. A vulnerable leader spreads vulnerability in the environment in a contagious manner. This generates possibilities and fosters a culture of critically examining issues and bringing solutions to problems without involvement of egos. This flourishes under an environment which keeps teams and organization beyond oneself.

We need to feel trusted to share our weaknesses, stressors, problems and personal issues. Close bonding within team members is vital for flourishing trust. How do we ensure this with huge individual differences and personalities at play? Some possibilities are explored in succeeding paras.

Create opportunities for self-awareness and life enhancement

Organizations could deep dive to IDPs (individual development plans) and focus also on vertical and horizontal growth of individuals ,enhancing quality of life, work life balance and higher engagement.

Many organizations have plan for employee engagement through collective discourse, trainings and team building events but larger dividends could be met by looking into individual goals and aspirations concurrently.

What organizations have as an opportunity is to focus on the very Individual who is an essential unit of any team or organization. Focus on their self- development, individual growth, and leadership qualities which is vital to develop trust among the larger team and organization. Individual self-awareness is a powerful tool which can be developed by, mentors and coaches within the organization or with professional consulting and coaching support. This awareness ensures career focus and eliminates unhealthy competitiveness and enhanced personal relations within teams.

Have Coaching as a culture

Teams may benefit from external coaches who may highlight trust issues within teams and a larger trust issue within organizations. Organizations with an open culture could talk about this objectively brainstorming issues and process rather than about people and pointed individual performance. This conversation requires the entire team to have commitment, single minded team goal alignment, and vulnerability. Creating an internal team of coaches or developing coaching as a competency among leaders and supervisors would be a powerful tool to enhance trust.

Have coaching as a culture

This could be done at each level of organizational touchpoint which requires communication, coordination and decision making. Coaching as a culture may require deep practices and training into the very concept and aspects of coaching and buy in from management and leaders.

Know your team

Know your colleagues beyond the professional sphere, understand their emotions and what affects them every day, family hobbies and their passion. Understand their fears ,vulnerabilities and working styles which you can complement, support or enhance. This is a huge opportunity for trust.

Creating organizational trust

Onboarding experience: Trust starts when the employee onboards in an organization. A new employee is full of predictions of the prospective future in the new organization. The employee is usually overwhelmed with hopes and takes pride to announce the new establishment as a mark of achievement. A deep-rooted trust is generated at this juncture. A trust that generates a feel of social security, passion and faith in the organization.

Employers can sustain this trust by ensuring smooth onboarding, delivery the contracting commitments and ensuring smooth transition personally and professionally in the new work environment.

Mutual Commitment: One of key aspects here is to maintain this delicate contract of trust throughout the employee life cycle.

This trust could be questioned when the some of the following experiences emerge for an employee :-

1. Gap in performance expectations with the supervisor.

2. Unfair practices for assessment of performance and promotions.

3. Gap in compensation expectations vis a vis assured or promised in employment contract.

4. Lack of transparency in rewards and recognition.

5. Benefits and work life balance issues after onboarding.

Trust deficit can hence occur within team relations between members and along the vertical or horizontal line of work flow due to interpersonal issues and personality influences.

Culture mismatch

Communication: Beyond work contracts culture plays a key role in developing organizational trust.

Employees need to connect across leadership and laterally with other functions superfluously without inhibition ,fear of reprisal and have freedom to bring out critical aspects of organizational growth.

Transparency: A culture of transparency promotes trust in the system and generates faith among the employees.

Team spirit: In times of crisis and market fluctuations the top management has to take many tough calls and decisions. Keeping the staff and employees stick to the overall goals of the organization at that juncture is a challenge. A good culture nurtures team spirit at critical times and makes the employees stick to the organization in thick and thin showing resilience.

Dignity & respect: An atmosphere of mutual respect irrespective of designations, class or creed plays a vital role in organizational culture. Transparency augments this by an unbiased and fool proof systems which rewards the just. A culture of respect involves appreciating ideas and critical thinking right from the lower most strata of employees. Every Job role has a significant part to play in organizational growth. Its vital to generate pride for every role.

Organizational Process: This is a key aspect of organizational trust. For instance, culture plays a key role when processes don’t exist in Start- ups. But as organizations grow in volumes and geography process augments organizational growth by binding the internal and external systems ,people and technology.

A resilient process is a backbone to employee relations. It should ideally have enough structure not to be tampered with personal views, egos and individualized influence by leaders. Employees review the trust when , CEOs bring frequent changes to the culture by Individualized views and fancy ideas, and personality influences on the process.

On the contrary, a good process oriented organization could also have systems which are is amendable, and flexible enough to stand up to times and changing panorama of people , generations and technology. This is the balance which can be a counter weight to rigidity in structures and processes.

I have shared some random thoughts on Trust .It would be great ,if you could share your views and additions to the subject.

By Lt Col R Sudhir (R)

Executive and Team Coach

Blissful Minds

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