Every successful relationship is built on trust. A lack of trust is the number one reason for breakdowns in communication and failure to achieve in remote teams.
The absence of trust can result in people being sceptical, uncaring, suspicious and jaded – all of which cause relationships to erode away.
In a remote team, where you’re working at a distance and may never meet your team members face to face, it’s vitally important to make building trust a major priority in order to work together effectively and productively.
To find out more about the importance of trust in the remote workplace, we caught up with Korrine Jones. Korrine is the author of #1 Amazon Best Seller “Virtual Team Reality: The Secrets to Leading Successful Virtual Teams and Remote Workers“.
She has over 12 years’ experience leading and working in her own virtual team, and has trained, worked with and interviewed hundreds of team leaders and team members of remote teams over the past few years.
Korrine says trust really is the ‘make or break’ of any remote team – it’s the glue that holds relationships together.
We need to be able to trust our team members to get on with their roles. However, it can be very challenging to build real trust when you work remotely.
Korrine explains that members of remote teams tend to build a form of trust quickly known as ‘swift trust’; the type of trust you might find in emergency response teams where highly trained individuals have to rely on one another. Swift trust is usually built on the premise that people have been selected to perform a particular role, so they must have the skills and capabilities to effectively perform their role, and can therefore be trusted to do their job.
However, Korrine also points out that while swift trust can build very quickly, it can just as quickly be torn down.
One broken promise, one breakdown in communication or one wrong move and the trust is broken. Therefore, remote team members and leaders need to be very conscious of the effort they have to put in to create and maintain real trust.
Based on Korrine’s experience, remote teams with the highest levels of trust tend to demonstrate the following:
- They begin one-on-one and team meetings with some social and informal chat before focusing on the work at hand.
- Each team member’s role is clearly defined to everyone on the team, so everyone knows exactly what they’re meant to do and can work on tasks without impinging on others.
- They remain positive and upbeat in communications, particularly as a team leader.
- They follow through on promises.
- They act with integrity and ensure communication is consistent and well considered.
- Leaders allow team members the flexibility and autonomy they need to perform their roles.
- They respond in a trustful way when mistakes are made, instead of finding somebody to blame.
- They show empathy and display concern for the well-being of others.
- They welcome new members to the team and touch base regularly to ensure they settle in.
- Leaders show no bias towards individual team members and spread their focus, attention and support appropriately across the entire team.