Monday 5 March 2007

Team Resiliency: Trust

Functional Trust and Foundational Trust
This month of March we are continuing the focus on resilient teams and team life. Here are some thoughts on the importance of trust in teams. Let's look at two types of trust.

1. Functional trust is assumed, and needed so that we can work together.

2. Foundational trust is earned, and developed over time and over tough times together.

• These two types of trusts overlap. It is important to understand the difference between having friendly colleagues in a work context (functional trust) and having close friends in a non-work context (foundational trust). For teams the shift from functional to foundational trust may not really be a goal. And if it is a goal, the shift is usually slow. 'What types of trust and relationships do we want on our teams?" is a good question indeed. (See also the blog comments from 29 January 2007 for more discussion on true friendship.)

• “Trust shifts” happen via consistent demonstrations over time that people are seriously and sacrificially committed to each other. This is especially evident during crises, such as a natural disaster that forces people to work together closely, with mutual dependency.

• Further, there is the genuine willingness to put someone else’s best interests over one’s own.

• There is also the deep sense that people are doing their utmost to respect and understand each other.

• People communicate regularly and equitably.

• And finally, people simply follow through on their promises.

Where foundational trust flows, entrenched conflicts usually do not.

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