Trust & Communication
According to research, team performance is categorically higher when there is trust in the team’s leadership. In a virtual team, it is more important to build a sense of trust and everyone being ‘in it together’. Good communication is essential to building trust, and so the two come hand in hand.
What are the key factors that lead us to trust in the workplace?
Various theories on trust in the workplace have been put forward since the 70s, but three factors they all have in common are ability, benevolence, and integrity – known as the ABI model of trust.
Ability – ability, or competence, boils down to our ability to fulfil the role of a leader and the accompanying tasks and to deliver results. People will not trust you if you don’t consistently deliver on organizational goals and targets.
Benevolence – is assuming others best intentions, giving folks the benefit of the doubt, and generally taking a kind and compassionate approach towards others in workplace communication and decision-making. Acknowledge good performance and good character in others and treat them with kindness and consideration.
Integrity – a person with integrity “walks their talk” by consistently acting in alignment with the values and beliefs they espouse to others. Honesty, fairness, and openness are also essential elements of integrity in a leader.
Building Trust in a Virtual Team
Here are some of the ways that you can build trust between yourself as a leader and your virtual team:
Set common goals – team goals, where everybody wins, foster a real sense of working together and being accountable together for working towards shared priority wins.
Transparency – as far as possible make decisions and communicate important changes or strategies on team channels rather than by several bilateral communications. Allow everyone to feel valued, trusted and included and those decisions are made in the open.
Feedback – both giving and receiving honest and thoughtful feedback is a great way to create trust with your team. When people know you are open to feedback and will also give it to them openly, they feel more secure and motivated to grow.
Empathy – try to hear, understand, and empathize with your employees – understanding their frustrations and challenges, and validating their experience will help them to trust that you are on their side.
Empower others – encourage independent thinking, learning from mistakes, challenging old ways of doing things and thinking outside the box. When your team know they have your support in this they will feel safer to innovate.
Results-oriented – rather than micromanaging the hours your team spends at their desk; focus on the outcomes and their productivity. This shows that you trust the team to manage their time and process if the agreed goals are being met.
Check out this short video (3 mins) from Harvard Business Review about how to build trust in a virtual team: https://hbr.org/video/2363593491001/how-to-build-trust-on-your-virtual-team