What Creates a Trustworthy Environment?

Every successful relationship requires trust. Teams need trust in order to operate effectively toward success and growth. Without it, breakdowns and discouragement are imminent.

In a team, trust is gained when the environment is cultivated to make its members feel safe and confident in their colleagues and their work. How can managers and team leaders create a trustworthy environment for their teams?

First, what exactly is a trustworthy environment? Of course, there are some starting points that every company must have in place to set a foundation for trustworthy environments. Things like scandal and questionable or duplicitous practices are red flags, and ethical and moral violations will devastate the trustworthiness of a team’s environment.

But beyond basic ethical operations, trustworthy environments are based on your team members. When I work with teams and managers to create a trustworthy environment, we start with a Trust Report (part of the Birkman Method®). In this report, we ask what each team member feels is necessary for an environment to feel trustworthy. Our goal is to learn what it is that creates trust for each member of the team, personally. Some individuals feel that direct candor is required for trust; others think that a trustworthy environment is gained through loyalty.

What becomes apparent is that everyone has different feelings about what creates trust, and what makes an environment trustworthy. If blunt honesty from management makes one person feel safe, each other member of the team may have a very different priority.

It’s not even about whether the environment is safe, it’s whether it’s safe for that person. Something that creates trust for one person won’t necessarily create a trustworthy environment for others.

To address this and create an environment that is trustworthy for each member of their team, managers need to flex their style – at least for the moment.

This isn’t an all of the time thing. Think about going to the gym: As you work out, you flex various muscle groups. Once you go home or go to work, you’re no longer flexing them. Managers need to become strong in the ‘muscle groups’ of different styles to create that trustworthy environment—using them when needed. As flexing muscles becomes easier the more you practice reinforcing them, so management styles become easier to implement as you practice using them.

This, in and of itself, will build trust with the members of your team because you’re meeting their needs.

The concept and practice of creating a trustworthy environment comes down to the recognition that every team member has different needs for their own trust in a team or organization. The Birkman® tool is uniquely designed to help teams and managers identify the things that create trust for your team members.

In my work with teams and their leaders, I can help you navigate the processes in The Birkman Method® and apply them to your teams to help you reach successful collaboration and professional growth. Please contact me to learn more, or to schedule a consultation to discover how this special method can help your team(s).

Featured photo source: Wikipedia Commons.

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