Build team trust

Trust is a cornerstone of business relationships. We all know that our customers must believe in us and trust us to deliver. 

Even more pressing is the trusting relationship between bosses and subordinates. Building trusting relationships in the workplace is essential for success. As leaders, we must be able to rely on those we work with to carry out our mission and drive profits. Without trusted employees we do not have a business model. As leaders, it is our job, to set the tone, and model the behaviour of being a trusted business partner. How we trust and treat our employees is the test of a good leader.

In day-to-day working relationships, between roles, responsibilities, work product, and team dynamics there is a lot to manage and track. Good management is a mixture of leadership and supervision. Leaders have followers. Managers must show those followers how to achieve tasks necessary to drive results. On the hierarchical level, we know we are in charge. In practicality we can find ourselves getting annoyed by high performing staff, who we actually like and value. This happens because they may need some extra attention, time and managerial energy, or they may have quirky work habits that irritate us. As the leader we want them to act independently. When the employees we value and respect start to annoy us, it distracts us from our business goals.

Your management style must create an environment that allows employees to feel trusted and respected to act independently. As the leader, you must insure that all team members can succeed at their goals individually to collectively move the business forward. Engagement is one of the most important drivers in your management toolbox. Your management style must foster teamwork.

Team meetings are a golden opportunity to model trust and support of your team. It doesn’t matter if it is a standing management team or a project team. Outstanding teamwork doesn’t just happen. The core competency of management is to truly appreciate your staff and make the team more powerful.

To build trust with your team, follow these three pillars of management:


  1. 1.     Know the difference betweenindividual and team skills

Individual and team success are inextricably connected, yet the skill sets that make each one successful differ. Individuals need confidence, likeability, and grit. We expect each employee to persevere and solve all issues at hand, no matter the situation. Teams need a dissenting voice and alternate views to grow and be successful and learn to rely on each other. The process of thinking through alternative ideas and action plans strengthen key team drivers such as trust, shared purpose, and problem solving. Discussing other’s perspectives and their experiences fosters team cohesion and better outcomes.

Make time for full discussions in team meetings. Don’t shortchange the trust building process to expedite problem solving. In the long run, these discussions make the road smoother and the team cohesive.

2. Make time to nurtureteam attributes

As the leader, be the catalyst to inspire discussions, conversations and real time examples to form the foundation of the team’s work. Present a decision point and ask for pros and cons, instead of telling your team the pros and cons. When discussing solutions, ask everyone around the conference table or the video chat and let everyone present ideas. If you know from the outset than an idea may not be feasible, there is still value in the team discussion. Allow team members to formulate their own conclusions. It will boost employee self-assurance and showcase your trust in them. These team discussions will spark new ideas and confidence in the team process.

3. Actively manage team meetings

Producing a high performance team is not a one-and-done behaviour. As the leader, you must consistently work at nurturing the attributes that contribute to team success. When you find a technique that spurs engagement and team cohesion, do not let the moment pass. Celebrate it, remember it, and apply it actively and liberally.

Use agendas to manage meetings. Agendas are an easy tool to help everyone prepare for their role in the conversation. It keeps the team on the same page. Literally. The agenda should be a page, or five items – fit right into the top portion of an email or what can be seen easily on a handheld. The whole team can contribute, if you use the end of each meeting to set key discussion items for the next. Involving staff and providing continuity from meeting to meeting fosters engagement. Understanding that meetings often have interruptions, schedule enough time to cover all of the meeting agenda items. Staff will appreciate that they know exactly how much time to budget for this team meeting. Knowing how their time will be used provides a feeling of appreciation, breeding empowerment for each team member. Empowerment produces actions. Actions build trust.

What’s next:

Know your team members’ individual strengths and weakness. Know what each individual employee contributes to the team. Be consistent in nurturing attributes that encourage team cohesion. These leadership skills are the building blocks of a high performance team. Actively manage your team to build trust and exceed business goals.


Ilene Marcus

Ilene Marcus, MSW, MPA, is founder of Aligned Workplace, and author of Managing Annoying People: 7 Proven Tactics To Maximise Team Performance. For more information, please visit 

Build team trust
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