One way to start building team trust

May 19, 2021
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

How much do you really know about your teammates?

Building team trust takes time. It can’t be built overnight. It requires shared experiences.

The more the better.

Over time.

With follow-through and credibility.

We’re not taking about the kind of trust where you can predict how a teammate will react. We’re going beyond understanding each others unique attributes.

The kind of trust we’re talking about emerges when we know that we can reveal things about ourselves that might be perceived as weaknesses, and that those weaknesses won’t be used against us.

The kind of trust that we know our teammates have the best interest of the group at heart.

Here’s a basic, simple exercise you can do in less than an hour to start building this kind of trust through being “safely vulnerable.”

Share Personal Histories

This low-risk exercise, from Patrick Lencioni’s The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, requires nothing more than going around the table (or Zoom call) and having team members answer questions about themselves.

These questions don’t need to be overly sensitive or revealing and can include basic “get to know you” information such as:

  • Number of siblings
  • Hometown
  • Favorite activities, hobbies
  • Unknown skills / fun facts
  • First job / worst job

My favorite discussion question to really get people sharing (and being vulnerable) is to ask about people’s unique challenges growing up.

When we start to relate to each other on a more personal basis, we see each other as humans. Knowing each other’s personal life stories connects us and creates group bonds.

This encourages empathy and understanding, discouraging unfair and inaccurate behavioral attributions.

It’s amazing how little team members actually know about each other.

And just how little information is required to begin to break down barriers.


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