Trust between members is one of the most essential elements of an effective team. When team members trust each other, they are more productive since they are less likely to be worried if they are going to be stabbed in the back and this give them the luxury to focus on the tasks at hand better. They embrace the constructive conflict and healthy disagreement that lead to better decisions and more creative ideas. I would like to express my personal preference for healthy disagreement in a team, I believe that healthy disagreement will lead to a more creative and robust approach in problem solving because everyone need to justify their own proposed solution to be foolproof .
In managing your team, you should explicitly communicate the importance of trust for your team’s success. To build trust between team members, create opportunities for them to get to know one another on a personal level. Small disclosures can go a long way in helping people understand each other’s actions.
Among the way to build personal bonds:
- Host an off-site team meeting or family day. Convene your entire team, including remote members. Time spent together outside the office creates opportunities for team members to get to know one another on a personal level. These events help team members debunk stereotypes for example, “the technology folks are hard to work with” and find common ground for collaborative work. This is the almost perfect event in which the team get to know each other on personal level.
- Hold team lunches or a lunch get-together. Encourage casual conversation for a half-hour. Prompt team members to reveal a little bit about themselves which could includes topics such as their upbringing, families, hobbies, travels. Whenever possible, have your virtual members attend by phone. But always make sure that the conversation are casual, and not forced, people need to open up willingly.
- Add a personal touch to meetings. At the beginning of a meeting, ask each member, those in the room and those joining virtually to give a brief personal or professional update. Building relationships before the meeting begins improves communication going forward.
- Encourage periodic face-to-face meetings and not just during your periodic performance review. As time, geography, and budget allow, bring virtual team members physically together at important junctures, such as when key decisions must be made or when new members join the team. Use videoconferencing if physical meetings are not possible. This will reinforce the group bonding necessary for trust.
- Build team cohesiveness. Have team members take a personality test, such as Myers-Briggs, and share the results with the group. Being aware of each other’s personality styles helps people feel more comfortable airing conflicts and collaborating. I did this with my team and finally all of us could finally understand our differences in attitude, preferences, way of talking and decision making process. This significantly increase our level of personal understanding of each of the team member personality and reduces friction in the team.