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Principles for Building Team Trust

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This article was written by Tom Kayser who gave his permission for it to be published on this site.

One of the tasks I had the pleasure of performing for many years at Xerox was to facilitate a three-hour segment at our semi-annual Developing Executives Workshop. While I did several exercises to help these high-potential individuals better understand the behaviour of great leaders, I used a portion of that time during some of the early sessions for them to wrestle with this burning question:

"What do you believe are the core operating principles all team members — including the manager — need to live by, on a daily basis, in order to develop trust within and across work teams?"

We would develop ideas in sub-teams, share them with the whole group, and then debate merits of the ideas and build a refined list. Over several sessions, each refined list was further added to, subtracted from, continually modified and polished.

Over several workshops, a small set of behaviours evolved for managers to perform routinely AS WELL AS a set for both managers and teammates to carry out on a collaborative basis. And, what was unique about this final set of principles was they were created bottom-up directly from the learning experiences — both positive and negative — by outstanding high potential individuals with bright organisational futures.

So if you are looking for ways to build trust within and across you teams and functions, there is no better place to start than right here with these insightful principles.

You may ask, why should I bother doing this? You should be motivated to take action if you just keep in mind this organisational truism — "Trust is the road over which everything else rides!"

For Managers

Believe in us — our motives, knowledge and skills

Provide honest business communication

For Both Managers and Teammates

Demonstrate open, honest communication at all times

Make realistic commitments and keep them

Work together

Where to Go from Here

You can discuss these principles with your teammates, gain commitment to live by and to practice them. Or, you can use this behavioural set as a starting point and make your own refinements to craft them to your own needs. Regardless of the path chosen, you and your team will feel trust begin to grow and shape how your team operates.

As said earlier, "Trust is the road over which everything else rides!" Without it, your organisation will be built on a pile of shifting, whispering sand and you will be severely hampered in any attempts to build genuine commitment, loyalty, collaboration, and productivity among your team members.

Buy Tom Kayser's books:
Mining Group Gold
Building Team Power

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