Why would trust among team members be important in a project team even more so than in any normal circumstance? Or perhaps I should say, why it is needed even more so than ever? Because in a project team each and every individual contributing to the outcome of the project is reliant on each and every other person for something to ensure successful delivery. It is therefore very important that there is a strong level of trust among the team.
In her book, ‘The truth about trust in business’ Vanessa Hall provides the following:
“The Oxford Dictionary defines trust as:
- A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something
- Confident expectation
- To place trust in, believe in, rely on the character and behavior of
- To have faith, confidence or hope that a thing will take place”
What have I seen go wrong when there isn’t strong trust? Chaos. I have seen instances of stream leads who won’t be honest and truthful about the state of their work outputs, for whatever reason, and the whole project schedule becomes unmanageable.
I am going to say that this is a matter of lack of trust, because if I was the project manager in this instance I couldn’t trust that what I was being told was the truth and so I would be unsure about the accuracy of any information that I was given by that stream lead in the future.
What if I had built a strong and trusting relationship with this same stream lead? Well I can see that the scenario would be very different, because if there were issues at all with delivery, the lead would feel comfortable to come to me and explain what was happening, as soon as it occurred, so that we could work together to rectify it.
On large projects it is critical that there is strong trust established among each of the work streams so that they can depend on the others to know that their ‘thing will take place’ if we refer back to the definition statement.
What can you do, as the Project Manager, to build the trust within your project team?
- “Everyone has different expectation and different needs, and ranks them differently” according to Vanessa Hall, so it is very important to have the conversation with your team members to understand their expectations and needs. By doing this you are going to at least come to some more common sort of understanding than if you don’t.
- “We make assumptions about what people expect and need, and we are surprised when they suddenly aren’t happy with us!” … so don’t assume. Ask! Be open in your interactions and communication with your team members and you are more than likely to get open and honest back. Check your assumptions, if you hear yourself making them, or thinking them. Don’t just assume. A great boss I once had “Never assume because it will make an ‘ass’ our of ‘u’ (you) and ‘me’, and I found this to be very true.
- “Keep your promises” Yes, it is just as important that you as the project manager keep your promises, as it is for each of your team members. Trust is not a one way thing. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. Your team members need to feel that they can ‘trust’ you too.
Have a look at where your level of trust with your team members sits and decide to do something about improving it.