Trust – The Backbone of an Effective Team

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Insights, Motivational, News

Building trust is vital to developing and maintaining strong relationships. It's also an essential component of a high-functioning team.


In Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team he says “Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible.” 

Understanding the Value in Developing Trust Within Your Team

Most would agree that before you can build trust with anyone, you have to get to know them. It's vital to connect personally with those you work with since these people are a significant part of your life. Essentially, they are your work family! As in all families, there are people we enjoy being around and those we don't. Nevertheless, the people around us don't have to be our best friends, but we do have to work together for the greater good of the team and organization.

Important: Trusting Relationships in the Team Dynamic

Trust – The Backbone of an Effective Team, Marshall Connects, Ontario

Team members who don't invest time to develop a foundational understanding of their role and those they work with may feel detached and struggle to succeed. The disconnect will affect the team's performance and lead to "a lack of chemistry" between colleagues. Trusting relationships strengthen team dynamics.

Building Trust is Essential to Relationship Management

Several factors must be in play to shape trusting relationships. All team members must feel valued for their contribution, including knowledge and capabilities. Communication is essential, as is respect and understanding for one another. Vulnerability among colleagues encourages a level of intimacy and connection that develops trust in teammates. When authentic and vulnerable members forge solid, trusting relationships, they are part of high-performing teams. Unquestionably, trust is the glue that holds teams together when faced with challenges and setbacks.

Team members should never feel the need to protect themselves from each other. According to Patrick Lencioni, when team members cannot develop trust, it leads to a great deal of wasted time and energy. When working with teams in the workplace, it is evident that interpersonal relationship issues are roadblocks to both synergy and productivity. The good news is there are numerous ways to built trusting relationships.

Here are Lencioni's suggestions for team members:

These suggestions will go a long way to building healthy, long-lasting, and trusting relationships.

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes.
  • Ask for help.
  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion.
  • Appreciate and tap into one another's skills and experience.
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, and not politics
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation.
  • Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group.

How to Move Forward When Trust is Broken

It can be tough to rebuild relationships where trust is broken. In my new book, The Power of Emotion, I reinforce the emotional and physical investment of time and energy when building trust, so it's not difficult to imagine the effort involved in repairing broken trust. The longer the distrust occurs, the more it affects morale, staff retention, and the team's overall productivity. Regardless of who is responsible for the situation, behavioural change must occur, and it must be authentic and consistent with regaining trust.

Working effectively in a team can be challenging at the best of times. Having trusting relationships and using emotional intelligence to support relationship building with other employees is the best practice.  Improving your self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence, so you may want to consider taking an EQ-i Self-Assessment to provide a personal analysis of your perception of your behaviour.  


This article was originally published on March 10, 2018, and has been updated (September 2021).

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