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I’ve been facilitating discussions with teams about trust for over eight years.  I ask questions like:

  • What is trust?
  • What are the ingredients that build trust?
  • What are the non-negotiables around trust?

I never cease to be surprised about what emerges from teams. Actually, we don’t just say it, we feel it at a very deep level. There are strong emotions surrounding the absence of trust in teams. Probably years of dysfunction around this one little thing! And sometimes the conversations we have can become quite intense.

This is foreseeable given it’s a value which we often hold deep within us. I get that. What is worrisome though is the next bit…

Often I get asked: well whose responsibility is it? If you want my trust you have to show me that I can trust you! Really are you serious about that!? That’s a bit bizarre.

I try to point out how crazy that position is. I explain that isn’t that a bit of a deficit model? If you’re not prepared to be open and trust as much as possible in the first instance? How can you expect someone else to trust you if you’re not prepared to trust them? You’re locked in this cycle of mistrust surely! How can that be helpful to anyone?

Lencioni has a wonderful model that basically says TRUST is a foundational component of being committed, accountable and a high performing team. If there’s an absence of trust then you cannot have the discussions you need to have. And so here we go around and around the mulberry bush with no positive outcome in sight.

We are back to square one. So how do you build trust if its isn’t there and what are the steps you might like to take?

First I think you need to understand what the ingredients are. Ray McLean in his book called Team Work says the ingredients are these:

  1. Do you have the skill to do the job?
  2. Can you apply those skills under pressure?
  3. Are you good for your word?
  4. Do you put the team’s needs before your own?

The essential components are clearly competence and character. If you don’t have these two characteristics then you cannot build trust.

I add two more ingredients to the mix. You need to build trust through honesty. Have open and honest discussions and do it in a way that creates safety for everyone. Be respectful. Ask questions. Really listen. Go forth and build trust everyone. Play it with a straight bat. You might be quite amazed with the positive reactions you get.

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