Increase virtual team collaboration by building trust

What do all high performing teams have in common, regardless of who’s in them? Our Learning and Development Manager, Emily Mahoney explains...

In 2012, Google undertook research into what makes a high performing team. Their research found that psychological safety (in other words, group trust) was the single biggest correlate of a group’s success.  When we’re psychologically safe, we feel included, and safe to challenge the norm without feeling embarrassed or awkward. Teams that are psychologically safe acknowledge each other’s humanity,

Building and sustaining trust in a virtual setting can be challenging but the rewards far outweigh the effort. If done well, teams maintain motivation, increase productivity and encourage ideation, all of which are key to a team’s success in the new normal we find ourselves.

Below are three ways which you can use to form and keep trust in your team;

Foster shared leadership

We trust somebody based on the interaction we have and the reliability of the person in that interaction. Find ways to involve each other in leading the team, setting a clear vision that everyone is working towards. The team then takes ownership for their part of the puzzle and can demonstrate their reliability and trustworthiness when they update on their progress. This can also prevent the team from becoming a set of meetings, rather than being an actual team.

Create a communication charter

Set out clear ground rules for your new virtual team working environment, focusing not just on the process and tools you’ll be using, but the behaviours you want in the team. Set aside 15-30 minutes for daily stand-ups where you catch up about non-work-related matters and check in with each other, so you have a pulse on how your team is feeling.

Instil collective vulnerability

Encourage team vulnerability and group compassion. We’re all in this together and it is ok not to be ok. We’re all grieving for our independence and struggling with our lack of control over the situation. Sharing these feelings in a group setting can be a helpful outlet, especially for those isolating alone. Your team may be the most interaction and the closest relationships that some of your team members have. Just like fear, optimism is contagious, so work together as a team to seek out what you can control and where the opportunities are. This will lift the team spirit and maintain engagement.

This human-centred approach will build trust in your team allowing them to continue to perform and contribute in a time of uncertainty. Lastly, remember Simon Sinek’s words, “a team is not a group of people that work together. A team is group of people that trust each other”

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