Building Trust on Your Team

Having a high level of trust on City and County teams is paramount to the success of everything you do.  Trust between individuals and teams can either stifle success or multiply success.  Great sports teams who were under-rated in terms of skills often beat teams with much greater talent because they trusted each other and worked as a team.

Having a high level of trust on your team (whether it’s a department team, project team or city management team) has a range of positive benefits to those in local government.   Below are a few indicators to know if you have high trust on your team: 

  • Is your team open to hearing honest feedback?
  • Do your team members express their ideas in a transparent and honest way?
  • Are your team members protective or careful in how they talk to each other?
  • Do they know that the intentions of the people they work with are good?
  • Does your team take input personally?

Your team may or may not have these attributes and it’s likely that you don’t have them fully. In fact here are some signs that you may have trust issues on your team. 

  • Team members may seldom acknowledge their mistakes or shortcomings to each other
  • They may rarely apologize to each other
  • They are guarded in the words they use and what they say to each other
  • They probably don’t ask for other people’s input regarding their own areas of work.  

Here are some best practices in building trust on your team.

  • Be more careful about keeping your promises
  • Let other people know of any limitations and expectations as you work together
  • Be consistent in good and bad times; consistency builds trust
  • Be honest and speak your mind
  • Be unguarded and do what you say
  • Regularly acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings to each other
  • Apologize to each other
  • Don’t hide your feelings and don’t self-promote
  • Give credit where it’s due
  • Let go of grudges
  • Reduce the amount of gossip and hearsay
  • Share professional successes and failures

Perhaps one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to build trust on your team is to get to know each other as people, not just employees.   Spend unscripted time with each other, asking how the other is doing (especially with Covid’s emotional and physical impact), ask about long-term career plans, personal dreams and hobbies.

At LeaderGov, a trust building exercise we recommend for teams is to meet and ask each other these three questions.   

  • Ask how many siblings were in their family and what their birth order is
  • Ask who positively shaped their life the most growing up and how they impacted them
  • Ask what their greatest challenge was growing up as a teenager

If you are able to invest the time to get to know each other as people first, you will likely find that you have common interests and common experiences.  You are also likely to make personal connections and even have more empathy for each other.  All of these outcomes build trust.

We hope these ideas and suggestions are helpful as you seek to build more trust on your team.   If your City or County or department need additional help in this area of teamwork and trust, let us know.  Our workshops and retreats are helpful services that can aid in growing your teams’ trust level.  Reach us at [email protected]


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