What is trust?
Trust is something that everyone approaches differently. For some, trust is given to a person, and then “points” are deducted for every breach that happens. For others, you’ll start at zero and will have to earn their trust through actions. The approach you apply doesn’t matter; it’s based on your personality, style, and life experience. Either way, trust is something that holds much gravitas, but it can often be left entirely on its own to develop within teams.
Trust is defined as a psychological state in which we expect positive actions and behaviour from others, to a commitment made. A trust equation has therefore been designed, and it says that trust equals credibility plus reliability plus intimacy. So, it’s about doing what we promised to do, or even said we would do, every single time. We tend to trust people based on their behaviour, and then label them as trustworthy when they meet our expectations. The intimacy variable means that people communicate, participate, and engage actively with others. This variable can often be overlooked, but as social creatures we generally trust when people interact with us.
Trust in teams
In teams, trust means that people are willing to be vulnerable. This usually results in team members working and co-operating with one another(Team Work). Trust also reduces conflict because people are comfortable – and will be confident – to express opposing values and opinions. It will allow for team participation, sharing of knowledge and information, and innovation. It also builds social bonds.
Distrust, on the other hand, is counterproductive, and carries an intangible cost for the organisation as a whole. Time is wasted because people have to deal with hidden agendas, unproductive meetings, incomplete work, miscommunication, or having to micro-manage others. When there is distrust, leaders will visibly perform control checks on all their staff. Distrust slows down the wheels of effectiveness and efficiency. For employees, it zaps all their psychological and cognitive energy, so much so that they become disengaged and lack motivation. It creates cliques in teams, something that needs to be carefully managed, as it can escalate to such an extent that people will leave. If left unaddressed, distrust becomes a cancer and will infiltrate the organisation’s culture, resulting in a toxic working environment. It will also eat away at the bottom line. However, this is something that we allow to continue, all too often.