13 Tips to Build Trust Within Your Project Team Members

Editorial Team

tips to build trust


As said in ‘The thin book of trust; An essential primer for building trust at work’, by Charles Feltman, trust is defined as the choice of risking to create something that you value, provided you may be susceptible to your friend’s/colleague’s actions. There are different dimensions to inculcating trust and confidence among your team members in your workplace. Being sincere, reliable, competent, and caring will go miles in placing your personality as a dependable one among your team members. One has to always keep in mind that the response of an individual to one approach is different from the other. An effective leader/manager should choose either one right approach or a combination of approaches based on the individual or the team dynamics.

1. Open Up

An efficient manager who is striving to build trust among his team needs to open up and express their thoughts even if the point of discussion is not of popular interest. The idea behind this approach is that it shows that as a manager, he/she has found it worthwhile and important to form their thoughts, articulate them into actionable insights, and it elicits sincerity from the team members as well, not to share it with irrelevant parties. A manager’s frank and straightforward approach indicates the way he/she expects his team members or subordinates to interact with him. In case the subordinate feels that his manager is not completely sincere with him, it would be hard for him to be open about his apprehensions and thoughts, which in turn will affect the productivity. In such a situation, in spite of countless direct meetings with the subordinates, a manager might not be able to get his message across and therefore will miss out on key topics pertaining to the overall team-productivity. A skilled manager should try to lead the meeting/discussion by setting an example during any communication. This is because there is a fair chance of a few or more of one’s team members being novices and inexperienced, which might lead to apprehension in opening up.

Following points depict some ways in which the trait of sincerity can be demonstrated within the team. They are:

  • Requesting constant feedback from the team about actions that are of common benefit
  • Acknowledge mistakes and be critical about never repeating them
  • Appreciate those that chip in to improve team productivity.
  • Develop an attitude of gratefulness.

2. Create The Circle Of Safety

A circle of safety is what leaders and managers provide. They draw a circle of safety around their team members/subordinates and say, if I provide you safety internally and you do not fear any danger in this space, then it is more likely that you will work together, trust each other, and cooperate to face the external risks and dangers. Only when there is a dependable circle of safety, there is innovation. Because, innovation requires risk, experimentation, and failure. If your team members fear that they are going to be thrown out of your team or company, simply because they tried and failed or lost some money, then there is a hard chance that they will even try. And the result is that there is no innovation. There is the joke that many organizations stress on teams and employees and say, “If you come up with something big, we will give you a big bonus. But, if you fail, we will fire you.” In this way, they are destroying innovation in their organization. A responsible leader has to decide on two things:

  • How to decide how porous the circle of safety is:

Because we can only let in those people into the circle, those we trust. In other words, people who believe in our values. You should be careful in not letting in people just because they are qualified since they might not share your values.

  • How big should be the circle of safety:

Some managers/leaders only make their circle of safety around their board, their managers or senior executives. Essentially because they are safe in the organizations because, in the event of a crisis, these people can fend for themselves. Such organizations are weak ones. In a strong organization, the senior managers extend their circle of safety to their most junior people in the company.

3. Listen Before Speaking

It is important to develop non-verbal communication skills while agreeing or disagreeing with someone. If you agree with someone, do not nod in affirmation. Likewise, if you disagree with someone, do not nod in negation. Generally, people are told their whole life that one needs to listen. This is a crucial skill for becoming an effective manager. Also, learning to be the last person to speak is also a key skill for developing trust within your team members. By practicing this approach, the subordinates will gain confidence in your patience and understanding. This approach seems contradictory to the one mentioned before. It is often seen in the boardrooms and conference rooms that good leaders barge into the rooms and say, “Here’s what I think the problem is?” By the  time they speak before anyone else in the team, the damage has already been done. The skill to hold opinions to yourself until everyone else has spoken does the following

  • It gives everybody the feeling that they have been heard
  • It gives everyone the satisfaction that they have contributed
  • You get the benefit of hearing what everybody else has to think before you deliver your opinion

4. Lead The Team By Example

It is the trait of a great manager/leader to always lead by example. Showing your subordinates and team members the way forward by setting an example to follow your footsteps is an incredible skill to inculcate. Boiling down this approach means an efficient manager has to become a role model in your behavior, values, and work. Below follows a few ways to conduct yourself by setting the example.

  • Words shall match the actions, or actions should justify your words
  • Taking an action when you see the need
  • An efficient manager should live by a higher code of conduct
  • Strive to bring out the best in your subordinates

5. Support Your Staff

From the employee’s perspective, an efficient manager should not only have professional expertise and experience but also look for other qualities such as character traits, interpersonal skills, and communication skills. It is a combination of these skills and traits that help an efficient manager steer his teams effectively. Below mentioned are some of these skills and traits, which one can inculcate for supporting their staff, in turn, becoming an effective manager.

  • Good relationship with customers and co-workers. Maintain rapport with unhappy customers
  • Be honest as well as respectful to your subordinates
  • Explain the reasons behind your opinions
  • Be open to suggestions from your workers
  • Learn to accept responsibility for your actions

6. Respect Your Employees

To build trust within your team, an efficient manager must answer himself on who does he want to be. Your appearance and behavior with subordinates means everything. Either you lift people up by respecting them, making them feel valued, appreciated, and heard. Or you hold people down by making them feel small, disregarded, insulted or excluded. Who you choose to be mean everything. An efficient manager should not possess or exhibit incivility in the workplace.  Even small uncivil actions can lead to much bigger problems like aggression and violence. Incivility degrades the performance of your team. Also, your subordinates and co-workers start losing trust in you as a manager. Hence, being civil and respecting your employees is an important method in inculcating trust within your workplace.

7. Take The Hit

In the event of a setback in his/her work, one should learn to accept the result for what it actually is. An efficient manager learns from his/her mistakes that led to a particular outcome. By doing so and adopting countermeasures, a manager sets an example to his team members on crisis management and in inculcating trust.

8. Accept Disagreement

It is natural to feel, on some days, that the only thing we can agree on is not to agree on anything. Sometimes, one feels that since everyone else is yelling, it is best not to get into an argument. In modern times, contempt has replaced conversation. Learning to accept disagreement from your team will bring forth the truth and throw light on innovative ideas. There exists a model for disagreement that is kind and mutually respectful. It often feels easier to attack the person making the argument rather than the substance of the ideas themselves. But the way to reach people is by finding common ground. An efficient manager should try to separate ideas from the identities of his/her team members.

9. Value Every Team Member

In a team, there are no small or big responsibilities. Each member is unavoidable in his craft and task. This approach has to be inculcated by an efficient manager in his subordinates. Provide respect to each employee of the team irrespective of his qualifications and expertise. An age-old adage says, “Give respect and take respect”.  For developing confidence and trust among your co-workers and team members, it is important to value every subordinate. While conducting periodic review meetings, learn to make it a point that each person is appreciated for their hard work. This instills trust and motivation within the team.

10. Praise Others

Often, the consensus among employees is that their superiors do not truly appreciate their work. Some key steps can be followed to make sure that your team members and subordinates feel valued for the work they are doing.

  • Learning to care sincerely
  • Evaluation of your own leadership style
  • Participate in daily team interactions
  • Goal communication
  • Instill a feeling of challenge in your employees

Even though some of these pointers can be adopted subjectively, the general theme is that these steps are incredibly valuable in honing your leadership skills by gaining trust from your team members, thereby making you an efficient manager.

11. Set Realistic Goals

Setting of wrong or unreal objectives is one of the key reasons for the failure of a project or an organization. It is essential, as a manager, to set meaningful and audacious goals, the right goals for the right reasons. A system of ‘objectives and key results’ can be followed for teams and organizations. It is also important to develop a sense of purpose in the team members. Answering key questions before deciding on the goal will help shape the right goals. Genuine transformational teams will complement their ambitions with their passion as well as purpose, thereby creating a clear and compelling sense of the reason.

12. Resolve Any Team Conflict

If a manager is capable of resolving conflicts within a team effectively, the team members trust him to lead with example. Formation of conflict is inevitable when different people work together. It is also important as it fuels innovation within a company. It has to be ensured that the aim of conflict within the team is to achieve the project goals effectively and not based on personal differences. In other words, conflict resolution has to be aligned with the project goals. Unresolved conflicts should not be allowed to fester in the team spirit, as it will affect the team’s productivity.

13. Do Not Hide Any Important Information

Each of the team members contribute a part to the overall success of a project. Trust and transparency are, therefore, keys to the team’s success. Employees can be handed over with the vertical responsibility of their work. Rather than being a mile wide and an inch deep, each team member can be allowed to have an end-to-end autonomy and responsibility on their part. As an efficient manager, one should inculcate a high degree of personal integrity and trustworthiness. It is also worthwhile to connect with your team members rather than isolating yourself in large or small cubicles. Each team member can be encouraged to conduct a peer review of his or her work.


One of the reasons why trust, as a leadership skill, that cannot be taught is that one cannot teach another person to trust. Trust and loyalty are feelings that we have towards people or organizations. Like all feelings, they have to be earned. They evolve and take a series of actions to prove that the other person is worthy of your trust and loyalty. This is the reason why regardless of whether you land a big role in a renowned organization, you may not immediately connect with the organization. Over the course of time, a person learns the traditions in a team and starts putting himself out for others.