How to build trust with co-workers (both remote & in-person)

How to build trust with co-workers (both remote & in-person)

Trust is essential for any high-performing project team. Each team member needs to believe that their counterparts will be accountable for their individual efforts and responsibilities, and it becomes challenging to work together when trust is damaged or broken.

We are wired to trust. The synapses in our brains that formulate this thought process develop when we are just a few years old. Trust builds when someone does something for us that we expect, and we learn we can rely on their actions.

But how can we develop trust with others in the workplace? And what are some ways to accomplish this when team members work in different locations? Let’s look at some steps you can take to build and strengthen trust with your colleagues.

Share Openly

This doesn't mean telling every minute detail of your off-work life and boring your coworkers with story after story. And it doesn’t mean telling your deepest, darkest secrets. But water-cooler conversations where co-workers share personal stories is a great way to build trust. Showing people that you work with that you trust them with your personal information will encourage them to do the same. You share, then they share, and so on and so on.

Assume Good Intentions

This is key. You are going into your work relationships believing that the people you work with are trustworthy. And that they want good things for you and the company. When you have a good outlook, others will too.

Stay Visible

People who see each other frequently are more able to pick up on the subtle, unspoken issues that they may be dealing with. If you make a point to actually see your coworkers regularly, you increase the number of chances to have conversations and increase connection. If you’re a manager, it’s called “management by walking around”. The more you connect, the more connected you are.

Be Predictable

Everyone wants co-workers they can count on. Ones that will behave how they expect every time. If you smile every morning and then one morning you frown and avoid eye contact, that is disarming. It’s not news that if you agree to do something, do it. Following through in some ways and not in others will aggravate co-workers more than if you never did anything at all.

Be Easy to Read

In the work world, silence is not golden. It’s frustrating. If you go silent in a meeting or on a call with no reason for it, co-workers are left to guess. And that’s never good. Explain your silence and don’t make your team have to wonder what’s going on.

Be Supportive

Nothing is more trust-building than knowing someone is in your corner. Checking in on someone who seems to be having a rough time; pitching in when the workload is overwhelming. These and more will cement a work relationship.

Consider the Depths of your Trust

Consider the Depths of your Trust Maybe you trust one person for follow-through on a particular task but you might not trust them with a deeper, heartfelt conversation. Maybe you’ll divulge deep secrets to your officemate but not to the guy in accounting. It’s OK to have different levels of trust with different co-workers. We won’t all connect the same with the same people. Foster all your relationships but be OK with the differences among them.

Hold People Accountable

Some people just don’t see the importance in trust. Maybe they’ve not worked as part of a team. But if you’re repeatedly behaving in a way that doesn’t engender trust, you need to hold them accountable. And if you can’t help but see a path to a mutual trusting relationship, then maybe it’s time to make a different choice.

Demonstrate Integrity

Telling the truth and following through on promises can be powerful tools to create a mutually beneficial work environment.

What if your workplace is spread out? What if everyone is working remotely? Well, there are many ways to ensure a successful working relationship even if everyone is spread out.

Listen Actively

If you’re in a remote team situation, you don’t have the benefits of all your other senses to help clue you in on how a person is feeling. You may have a little visual from a video conference but the bulk of your interactions are verbal. Listening will be your greatest asset for building trust with remote workers.

Solicit Feedback

When day-to-day communication is more difficult, constant feedback is critical. Making sure you are tapping in to the thoughts of remote workers other than at established meeting times will help them feel more in the loop with the company from wherever they are. And when you get feedback, act on it. Trusting remote workers to share their ideas is one way of the street. Your follow-through is the return trip that cements the trust bond.

Show Appreciation

It’s easy to say “Thank you” when someone hands you something in person. It’s much more complicated when that something comes by email that you don’t get for 24 hours. Showing appreciation is essential with remote workers who can feel isolated. Make sure you let the appreciation flow freely.

Create an Inclusive Culture

Sometimes remote workers can feel “less than” because they’re not in the building or with other staff. Making sure that the entire company is striving to promote an inclusive environment. Co-workers, regardless of their location, feel equally valued and important to the project and company success.

All these tips will create an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect which will increase productivity, help worker retention and make a most enjoyable working environment.