On trust in project teams

Do you have an ample amount of trust amongst your project team?

It becomes difficult to manage the projects when team members do not have a good amount of trust among one another.   They would see everything happening in and on the project with skeptical eyes.

In the matrix organization structures where project managers do not have implied authority to reward the team members by giving them pay-hike or promotions, trust remains the only effective factor that gets things done.

What to do to build a trust-based work environment?

Well, here’re a few ideas:

  1. Trust Yourself: It might look counter-intuitive but I’ve seen many project managers who don’t trust themselves. They have doubts about everything they do, everything others do and they feel that everyone else is out there to cheat them. Do not belong to that community. Trust yourself. Trust your guts. Trust what you do. It’s okay to make mistakes, learn from it and move ahead. Remember, people don’t trust whom who do not trust himself.
  2. Be authentic: Make sure what you say is authentic. Be transparent in your communication as much as you can. Do what you mean; mean what you do. Sarah Ban Breathnach said it once so beautifully, “The authentic self is the soul made visible.” So show your soul to your team and win their trust.
  3. Effectively Handle Conflicts: Robert Townsand said it once, “A good manager doesn’t try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you’re the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong – that’s healthy.”  Make sure that conflict doesn’t get converted to combat, instead profit from it.
  4. Listen twice, speak once: Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” How true!  Invest in listening to your people. People feel good when they feel attended and listening is the best gift you can give to anyone.
  5. Say No: When you really mean you should say no, say ‘No’. Just because of the fear of confrontation, do not say ‘yes’ for which you’ll regret later. Saying no is about being genuine. Saying no means taking responsibility. Say no and also be ready to justify the reasons behind it. Once convinced, team members will respect you more.

A trustless team is unacceptable and as a project manager, it’s your humble duty to plant the seeds of trust in your team. Also, you need to think about bigger questions like below:

“Many organizations put their customer first in their so called mission statements but don’t invest in establishing and nurturing trust in their project teams.  This leads to unnecessary delays in getting things done. Isn’t it a customer-disservice?”

If you don’t have such bigger questions to combat then here are three not-so-big but still very important questions:

  1. As a project manager, do you have an ample amount of trust in your team?
  2. If the answer is no then what concrete actions you’re taking about it?
  3. If the answer is yes then what else can you do to solidify it?