14 March 2023 | 2 min read


For a team to perform at its highest potential, there has to be complete trust among team members. The group should feel they can let their guard down. They need to feel safe with each other. They rely on each other to accomplish goals. Everyone has each other’s backs. If someone is having a rough day, the other team members will protect, help, and care for them. 


Multiple studies have found trust to be a critical quality of high-performing teams. We want to get our team to that level of synergy quickly so they can function at their most efficient. How do we get our team to trust each other? 


Give it some time. 

Trust takes time to develop. There has to be a track record. Trust builds when people consistently come through on their word. That means it will take time before members can prove their dependability. While it takes time to build trust, you can lose it in one moment. So think things through carefully and ensure your behaviors align with your words. Give yourself and your team time to establish your sincerity. 


Be open. 

Openness builds trust. If you can’t fulfill a promise or get a project done in time, being open and honest with your team can still produce confidence among members. Why? Because you admitted your failure and are looking for an alternative solution. Now, your team can trust you because they know you will keep communicating even when things aren’t going well. Trust isn’t about always winning. It is about being there for each other even when you are losing. But you must be willing to be vulnerable and open with your group, even if it means looking flawed or imperfect. 


Follow through. 

The key to being trustworthy is to match your behaviors to your promises and show results. Building trust is all about supporting actions. That means you must follow through. Follow-through is especially important when trying to rebuild broken trust. In work settings where Calculus-Based Trust (trust built on performance/rewards/punishments) is prominent, follow-through is vital to building reliable bonds. 


Show care. 

Trust among team members has a prominent underlying theme in the academic world. Care or concern for others is one of the critical components of building trust among working groups. You see it highlighted in most trust models. Gary Cohen’s 7Cs of trust: 1) Capability, 2) Commitment, 3) Capacity, 4) Connection, 5)Commonality, 6) Consistency, 7) Character. Robert Shaw’s Trust in the Balance, 1) Achieving results, 2) Integrity and 3) Demonstrating concern. And The five critical dimensions by Shockley-Zalabak, Morreale, and Hackman 1) Competence, 4) Openness and Honesty, 3) Concern for team members, 4) Reliability, and 5) Identification (sharing goals and values). Each model stresses the importance of caring for team members to build a trusting relationship quickly. When your team shows concern for you, you tend to put more faith in them.