Building Trust – Not just a cliché

Trust is the main ingredient in an Agile Transformation. Trust is the building block of team cohesiveness and is what allows people not only to feel but also to be empowered.  Building trust is organic and cannot be rushed, scheduled or forced.

When a team is first put together they might be a reluctance to rely on and trust each other.  Team members who do not know each other often fall back to doing what they know best.  At this stage team members are working as independent people working in their silos and connecting when they need to at the end of the sprint. Every person for oneself is the motto!!!!

One of the biggest factors blocking trust is an unwillingness to be open and vulnerable to your team.  During the forming of a team it is critical to help the team get to know each other.  This is not just what kind of work they do but helping the team to get comfortable with each other, to be open and willing to raise impediments, to work together towards a common goal.

Here are five key attitudes and behaviors for building and maintaining an environment of trust –

1.     Respect – Respect is one of the foundations of trust.  Building on the saying –“treat others as you would like to be treated” – respect others, as you would like them to respect you.
2.     Collective Accountability – There is no one person to blame or to take credit.  The team collectively fails or succeeds.  Finger pointing or hogging the recognition is a sure way of breaking trust.
3.     Assume Positive Intent – As you get to know each other assume that the other team members are always working to the benefit of the team.  This does not suggest that naïveté is needed to build trust, but I would submit that a little naïveté along with positivity would go a long way.
4.     Team First – As clichéd as “there is no I in team” sounds, there must be a spirit of selflessness towards team objectives.  Team members working together responsibly towards a shared goal will immensely help with building the trust in the team.
5.     Communication – Communication is a capstone of the building blocks towards trust.  Open, honest communications is a MUST to develop and maintain trust.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey wrote:

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world — one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.

On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

That one thing is trust.



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