Trust is an essential precursor to effective team work. It doesn’t just form. We need to be intentional in creating it.
As I write in my book Effective Virtual Conversations, there are many things we can do to build trust and connection in the virtual space including:
- One on One Time: Having regular calls with your team members to check in around how things are going, as well as what their needs are from you, and from the team.
- Group or Team Agreements (Ways of Working): Creating shared agreements around HOW you will operate as a team. This helps to create safety, an essential precursor to trust and connection.
- Create shared expectations: What does everyone expect from each other? What are your expectations of how you will operate as a team?
- Breakouts: Using breakouts regularly in team meetings can help people get to know each other better. Breakouts enable people to connect with one or two others for short periods of time around key discussion areas.
- Paired partners: Assigning partners across the team. In my former work we called these peer partners and we rotated it on a regular basis – i.e. every 6 months. The role of the peer partner was to connect on a bi-weekly or monthly basis with another team members to chat and connect, sharing a little more about key projects and tasks they were working on, and focusing in on learning more about their partner. Brainstorming around key opportunities and challenges also ensued, as did some formal and informal mentoring.
- Being clear about process and what to expect: Trust is also built on virtual calls by letting people know what to expect about process and key items.
- Connect people early on with their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?): Connecting people around their What’s In It For Me at the start of the call, helps to connect people with the relevance and importance of the topic in their world. Without this, it is unlikely that we will listen.
What will help to build trust and connection for your team members?
Another key element to helping teams thrive in uncertain environments is connection. Knowing other members of your team – who they are, what they do, who they are connected with, and what strengths they bring – is crucial in contexts which are changing regularly.
No person is an island, and our relationships are even more important.
To boost connection on a virtual team we will want to:
- Build in moments for teams to learn more about each other – who they are, what they do, what they can be counted on to accomplish.
- Help people articulate their role, and how they operate. This might include a one pager with a focus on “Here’s what you should know about me”.
Leadership | Teamwork | Business Success
Author of multiple books including Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), PlanDoTrack (2019) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
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