Trust is a big word. It carries a lot of connotation within it. Ask 10 different people what it is and how you prove it, you’ll get 10 different answers. Everyone knows that it is important, but everyone has a different way of building and evaluating it.
Working within project teams requires lots of different types of trust:
- Trust that the leader is moving the team in a successful trajectory.
- Trust that each member is doing their bit.
- Trust that the requirements are correct and valid.
- Trust that leadership will allow the project to continue.
Break any of those trust chains in the course of the project and you are more likely than not to have a failed project. Layers of trust, often built over a period of time, build up the confidence to move forward. Even when there are doubts, trust between individuals allows everyone to move forward.
The bigger difficulty is when you bring new people into a team that no one has worked with before. Initial trust can transfer to that person based on a number of variables.:
- Is this person known throughout the company?
- Do we generally trust this person’s boss or peers?
- What kind of track record does this person have on other projects?
- Are they giving off the right vibe?
Upon working with someone for the first time, you may not realize how you’ve reached a decision on the level of transferred trust you’ve provided to them. Everyone we meet gets a starting point but we may also realize that our evaluation is incomplete.
Building and giving trust is best when it’s a thought-through activity. Trust is not a short-term thing, it lasts across time until new data causes us to reevaluate. If building/giving trust is a two-way activity, then you get two or more people actively trying to understand the motivations and drivers of each other, not just their role.