What’s Trust Got to Do With Managing Teams and Relationships? Everything!

by Rachel Verlik, PCC

A frequent topic that arises within coaching, especially in managing teams and relationships, is the concept of trust.  Trust is a core, foundational attribute for effective, high-performing teams and organizations. 

But what IS trust?  It can be a gauzy concept.  We find David Maister’s The Trusted Advisor model easy and helpful to delineate the various aspects of trust, giving us something to demystify the concept.   Maister identifies the following components of trust in his framework:

Credibility:  These are the words we speak, our technical competence.  This aspect of trust is knowing what we are talking about.

Reliability:  You do what you say you will do, and you are consistent in doing so. You follow through on your word.

Intimacy:  The connectedness, or safety and security, when interacting with someone.  

What detracts from trust?  Self-orientation, or in other words, focus.  This occurs when a person is focused more on his/her/themself than on managing teams and relationships. 

What’s Trust Got to Do With Managing Teams and Relationships?

How does this all play out in the workplace?  Let’s share an example – imagine if we are working on a project with someone from another office.  We don’t know them overly well.  But we see that they know how to manage the technical aspects of the project (credibility);  they deliver on time and meet their deadlines (reliability);  and are most enjoyable to work with (intimacy).  However, you can‘t help but shake that there is something that stands in the way of true trust.  They seem overly interested in the perception of others and how this will set them up for promotion.  Self-orientation/focus is high here, resulting in perhaps a lower level of trust.  

Many of us think we can’t be vulnerable until we trust someone.  But in order to trust someone, we actually HAVE to be vulnerable (source: Brené Brown). It’s an interwoven process: “I have to trust you to be vulnerable, but I also will be vulnerable when I trust you.”   It is a slow, interconnected dance.  

Consider- what are YOU doing in managing teams and relationships?  Which of these aspects above do you want to put increased focus on for yourself, in order to lead more effective teams and have better professional relationships?  Where might you introduce this concept to your team – and what benefit might it have?   The more we openly and productively discuss trust- what’s working and what’s not- the higher the potential for healthy, thriving relationships and organizations.