Anyone who works in a project environment knows there’s few people we see more and communicate with, than the people in our project teams. That’s why it’s important that we not only connect with our team members, but that we do so with trust.
What is trust?
In the context of projects, trust provides a safe space for team members to work alone and together, and to share ideas; they know they can rely on one another. Trust contributes to a culture of innovation, productivity and autonomy and is essential to having effective project teams that thrive
Who is responsible for fostering trust
In short, it’s up to the project manager to foster trust within their team. And the best way to accomplish this, is to lead by example. Communicate the truth, even when it’s difficult and even when it makes you feel vulnerable. That means not being afraid to admit when you’re wrong or to give honest feedback that may or may not be positive.
Trust transforms a manager into a leader who people not only report to, but want to follow.
How to build trust
Communicate Constantly: It’s no secret that the building blocks of trust start and end with communication. Share updates often and be transparent with your team. Keep the channels of communication open and remember that when there’s a lack of information, people often create their own assumptions. If you know something that you aren’t able to share with your team just yet, tell them what you can and let them know that you will be back with more information soon. This is especially important in “harder” times, like during layoffs. Let them know you have their backs and always be honest.
Ask and Provide Feedback: The best way to show your team you trust them is to ask for their opinions and ideas. Show them you value their input and hear their concerns. And be honest with your feedback as well. One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to give constructive criticism in a way that motivates your team.
Stick to Your Commitments: If you say you’re going to do something, do it with no exceptions (so make your commitments wisely). This is also the best way to get your team to do the same; you have to model the behaviour you expect from them.
Schedule Individual Meetings: Check in with your team members with one-on-one meetings to ask how they’re doing. Not only will this go a long way in helping them trust you, but it creates a rapport between you and the individuals on your team that will bring about more honesty. They will feel more at ease to share their honest feedback and tell you things they may otherwise keep to themselves.
Get Your Hands Dirty: Sometimes you have to be willing to work in the trenches, side-by-side with your team. Show them that you’re a team player and that you will show up when you need to. Of course, you need to spend most of your time in high-level management, but once in a while, when the going gets tough, you have to show your team members they can rely on you to give them a helping hand.