Building trust among team members

Trust is the foundation for all healthy relationships and is an essential component found in all healthy teams.  Trust is the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our expectations. Trust assumes that others will not deliberately hurt us or take advantage of our reliance on them. Our trust in others is not static, nor is it an either/or proposition.

Our level of trust in others, a team or an organization will vary over time and is more likely measured on a spectrum based on the following three dimensions:

Competence – the trustee’s ability to live up to the trustor’s confidence.
Willingness – the trustee’s desire to live up to the trustor’s confidence.
Character – the moral commitment of the trustee to live up to the trustor’s confidence.

Great teams create and sustain trust by:
1. Being committed to the cause
2. Deepening friendships with one another
3. Being consistent in words and actions
4. Taking personal responsibility for their words and actions
5. Modeling open, honest communication
6. Seeking reconciliation (asking for and extending forgiveness)

So often we assume that trust is already part of our team dynamics and therefore, we do little to nurture it. How would you characterize the level of trust among staff? ministry teams? your congregation?  How has it changed over the years? Here are some additional suggestions for developing trust among your team members.

Get to know each other.  We usually know alot ABOUT other team members but very little do we know about their backgrounds, interests, hopes, dreams, life challenges and faith practices.  Build in time for caring conversations at all gatherings to nurture teams.
Create and sign a group covenant. Make your expectations of one another transparent. Team members shouldn’t have to guess what is appropriate and what is not.
Create safe space for authentic dialogue.  Agree to disagree agreeably. Welcome different viewpoints. Seek to understand how others came to their conclusions rather than seeking to defend your position.
Create prayer partnerships.  Provide opportunities for team members to regularly pray for one another. Some teams create Facebook groups where prayer requests and plans are regularly shared with each other.
Teach team members how to deal with conflict and difficult issues.  Role play typical situations and provide scripts for introducing topics that team members may choose to avoid. The avoidance of conflict almost always diminishes trust within a team.
What might you do in coming weeks to build trust within your teams?

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