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7 Faces of Distrust

A reader asks, “Maybe a post on how to proceed when relationships have been eroded among team members? With a small team, I find it especially challenging.”

Trust is the engine of team performance.

7 faces of distrust:

#1. Tearing down the people you should build up.

#2. Wishing failure on people instead of celebrating their success.

#3. Viewing team members as enemies instead of allies.

#4. Self-protection and defensiveness.

#5. Surprises during performance reviews.

#6. Planning-meetings that exclude input from the people who are impacted by the plans.

#7. Constant rule-making. Distrustful teams use rules to protect themselves from each other.

Bonus: Hidden agendas.

10 traits of trustful teammates:

#1. Know, honor, and celebrate the top three strengths of everyone on the team.

#2. Talk openly about weaknesses. (A person who has no weakness is self-deceived and untrustworthy. They will blame you to protect their image.)

#3. Enjoy playful mischief. One organization gives the “Duck Butt” award. This year it went to a person who hit the overhang of a drive-through with a company vehicle.

#4. Ask forgiveness. “I was wrong,” builds trust.

#5. Express sincere enthusiasm for another’s success.

#6. Speak about others as if they are in the room, when they aren’t.

#7. Assume others have good intentions. Trust gives the benefit of the doubt.

#8. Protect each other’s best interests. Self-protection weakens relationships.

#9. Examine personal responsibilities before finger-pointing.

#10. Open their mouths to build-up.

3 ways to rebuild eroded trust: 

#1. Define trust.

It’s impossible to build trust if you haven’t defined it in theoretical, practical, and emotional terms.

#2. Describe trustworthy behaviors.

You need to know the actions that express trust and the unacceptable behaviors that violate trust.

#3. Extend trust before it’s earned.

Distrust is earned. Trust is given.

We are all trust-givers.

Trust is given every time you drive on the freeway or walk down an airbridge to your seat on a plane.

What are some faces of distrust that you have seen?

How might teams build/rebuild trust?

Bonus material:

The Speed of Trust (Covey)

Ten Ways to Build Trust on Your Team (Forbes)

Why trust is critical to team success (CCL)

Building Trust Inside Your Team (Mindtools)




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