As the Head of UK Energy & Utilities at Salesforce, I’ve worked hard to embed my core belief that the best teams are built on trust. A team that breeds a culture of trust is always more likely to be happier, more collaborative, and highly performing. Everyone’s worked with a team that isn’t trusting of each other in the past, and the feeling is palpable – without trust, a feeling of insecurity creeps in and teams are so afraid to make mistakes that their work suffers hugely.
The insecurity and disruption that the pandemic has pushed onto our personal and professional lives has been profound. It added a new dimension to remotely develop trust – and completely removed the physical interactions we’d take for granted, from an unscheduled catch-up in the hallway to a coffee meeting.
So how do you build a strong team that trusts each other in a virtual world where the new normal involves meetings held from each others’ kitchen tables?
Put simply, it’s about putting more effort into working harder on building our relationships with each other – and knowing the results will be worth it.
1. Know that trust starts at the top
To develop and cultivate trust, you have to show, not tell. As leaders, it’s important to set the tone which will trickle down to the way your teams will do business.
Not only do we need to do exactly what we say we’re going to do and navigate shared experiences together as a team, we also need to show our teams that as leaders, it’s okay to open up and openly discuss our fears, doubts and insecurities. That means opening up our own vulnerabilities to our teams first. It gives us credibility.
2. Show that you care
We’re all human, so it’s critical that we get to know each other well to form lasting and trusting relationships between our team.
We work better when we know how our team likes to communicate with each other, how we get our best work done, where our strengths and weaknesses lie, what frustrates us, how we like to communicate, how we like to learn and what’s important to us as individuals.
At my team in Salesforce, we go the extra mile and celebrate our individual successes, talk about our families (and often get to meet them on our video calls!), discuss how we like to unwind and that opens up the ability for our team to feel comfortable asking for guidance and support from each other.
When you truly show you value individual skills and experiences, you look forward to the opportunity to get together and work through problems and challenges, and trust comes naturally.
3. Acknowledge trust is a journey, not a destination
It goes without saying that a team built on trust won’t just happen overnight. To feel the benefits of trust in the workplace, it’s important to make clear and sustained effort. You can’t demand or expect trust – you have to nurture, encourage and reward it.
With all of our work interactions taking place online, you can naturally expect that trust is likely to take longer to achieve across your whole team, but by taking the right measures sooner, you’ll be on par for a successful, productive and trusting relationship with your team.
When we nurture teams built on trust, we recognise each individual’s talents and go far beyond creating successful, high performing teams – we create bonds, friendships and a support network which make us feel safe. In these unprecedented times of working distantly and having to juggle personal and work commitments, it’s never been more important to develop a legacy built on a culture of trust and shared success.
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