How to build trust within your team

Building trust within a team — new or established — takes deliberate discipline. It is not a passive process which just magically produces results.

You know how devastating it can be when you try to get your team to work together, but there’s constant disagreement, a lack of communication, and missed expectations. During these low points, it feels impossible to imagine coaching a team to get through a week of work let alone their full potential.

Building collaborative and accountable teams that deliver consistent results is a reflection of team trust. 

If your team isn’t willing to trust one another, they most likely won’t take risks. Consequently, they’re not going to be able to effectively adapt or innovate when challenging situations head their way. We all know problem solving is a must to succeed.  Worse is if you let one bad apple or group of employees persist within the team. It will be tough to re-establish trust as friction spreads. 

When an employee doesn’t mesh well with the people on their team due to trust issues, this can lead to friction among the team or disengaged individuals. No matter how talented those individuals are separately, if they can’t trust one another, they’ll never get the top results.

A Classic Case study

The classic case study example is the end of the New England Patriots’ dynasty. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are unquestionably one of the greatest duos in sports and set the gold standard for teamwork at the highest level of the NFL. Toward the end of their epic run, there were lingering trust issues which led to friction which bled into the media. (Easy to say from this armchair quarterback) 

Think about a highly cohesive team that you’ve been part of in the past. Why did that team work so well? 

Now, think about a team that you’ve been a part of that didn’t work well in the past. What do you think the unsuccessful team was missing which the previous successful one had?

When a new process, project or objective surfaces, it is best to pause and take a moment to ensure everyone is aligned. 

Understand how decisions can impact individual jobs or the overall work style of your team. Some individuals are more inclined to fly by the seat of their pants. Others require a step-by-step outline. Being clued into the personalities of your key stakeholders and how they interact can keep everyone united.

Creating an environment where your team can play “complementary football” to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses will help achieve team cohesion. 

What are some action steps you can employ today? 

First, focus on the team dynamic. 

Bring the group together, create a safe space for discussion, ask for feedback, and allow others to speak candidly. Not only does this show respect, but it also provides opportunity for diverse thinking, improved outcomes and ability to be transparent to generate healthy conflict.

In most cases, one person doesn’t have all the answers and that should be transparent amongst the group. Be willing to share decision making and consensus, play to the strengths for the greater good.

If not, teams can feel paralyzed, like they are stepping on toes and have to run decisions through one authoritarian which can bring productivity to a halt. 

Second, consider assigning team roles based on their strengths. Ask them who they feel would best complement their abilities. Set accountability checkpoints to encourage trust and move in a productive direction. 

Ultimately, team morale may decrease if there is a lack of control over decisions.

Finally, encouraging healthy conflict and feedback will nurture those that have been previously uncomfortable as it is not a common practice. 

Here are six other steps to build trust within a team.

  1. Be vulnerable: Don’t pretend you have all the answers, and be willing to share decision making and praise.
  2. Be accountable: Follow through on your commitments and your role in projects. This can be as simple as communicating weekly with the team on project timelines.
  3. Be deliberate: Say exactly why you’re taking specific steps.
  4. Be transparent: Be open and honest about what causes change.
  5. Be open: Allow others to speak candidly for better feedback
  6. Have a clear goal in mind: This allows all team members to be aligned on a project or objective. Not having a clear strategy can lead to frustration around responsibilities.

About The Author

Tyler Bloom is the founder of Tyler Bloom Consulting. A former golf course superintendent and turf professional, Tyler’s love of all things golf began at the age of six when he stepped onto the course for the first time. 

Tyler has an Executive Certificate in Talent Acquisition from Cornell University and a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University. With 20 years of experience in the golf and turfgrass industry, Tyler has worked directly with reputable club leaders at some of the most prestigious clubs to place over 100 professionals in executive and management level positions throughout the United States.

Are you ready to build a top-performing team that drives results? Our proven framework, methodologies, and implementation is based on our personal track record of developing world-class teams. In addition to talent acquisition, we provide leadership development and ongoing consultative services for the golf course and club industry. Our team has personally coached and mentored dozens of future golf course superintendents across the United States.