Virtual Teams

Building trust in virtual teams – don’t focus on the trust

By Kevan Hall, CEO, Global Integration

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been working on the subject of trust for a revision of our remote and virtual teams training – see previous post on trust for some references and background.

One of the findings from the academic trust research is that high trust teams do not focus too much on trust in the early stages. They focus on getting on with the work and discussing what needs to be done and how. We see this clearly in the kick-off programs we run for virtual teams and projects.

In the beginning of a virtual team people are keen to get on with the work, they have little experience of each other yet but are normally willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. If trust is an issue at the first meeting then you really have a problem – probably caused by past trust breaches.

What does cause problems however is lack of clarity on what the purpose of the virtual team is and what individuals should be dong after they leave the kick-off.

If teams start fast and start to deliver quick wins then trust grows as a result of performance.

So our job as managers is to create an environment where people can succeed and provide some social opportunities (as a by product of the interactions on purpose) for people to begin to get to know each other.

Detailed interventions on relationship building and trust at too early a stage may actually get in the way.

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