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3 Blindspots In Building Trust In Remote Teams



In a recent Forbes article on trends in "Return-to-Office" (RTO), I read one sentence that immediately grabbed my attention.


"Many executives simply don't trust that employees are as effective as possible when managers can't see them at their desks."

Teams don't trust leaders who don't trust them. 


Trust is a reciprocal relationship built on mutual respect and confidence. When leaders fail to trust their team members, it sends a clear message that they doubt their abilities, judgment, and integrity. 


Without trust from their leaders, team members are less likely to reciprocate trust, share ideas openly, take initiative, or go the extra mile, creating a cycle of mistrust and inefficiency.


Here are three blindspots where trust can falter, how to solve them, and the result of addressing them.


Being Authentic

Authenticity is a cornerstone of trust. However, in remote environments, hiding behind screens and presenting a polished but only partially genuine version of oneself is easy.


Solution: Encourage team members to be authentic by sharing their real experiences, challenges, and successes. Leaders should model this behavior by being open about their own journeys and vulnerabilities. Creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves genuinely can foster deeper connections and build trust.


Result: When team members feel safe being authentic, it leads to stronger relationships, deeper connections, and a more cohesive team environment. Trust is built on mutual understanding and honesty, which enhances collaboration and reduces misunderstandings.


Supporting Autonomy

Micromanaging is a quick way to erode trust in any team, but it's especially detrimental in a remote setting where team members crave autonomy and trust. Overlooking the importance of autonomy can lead to disengagement and resentment.



Solution: Empower your team by giving them the autonomy to make decisions and manage their work. Trust them to fulfill their responsibilities without constant oversight. Provide the resources and support they need, but allow them the freedom to find their own ways to achieve their goals. Recognize and celebrate their successes to reinforce your trust in their abilities.


Result: Supporting autonomy fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among team members. This leads to increased motivation, higher job satisfaction, and improved productivity. When team members feel trusted, they are more likely to take initiative and contribute proactively.


Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)

The concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement, is vital for fostering a culture of trust and innovation. However, if the focus on improvement is not balanced with recognition and support, it can lead to burnout and frustration.


Solution: Implement Kaizen by encouraging small, incremental improvements and involving the whole team. Celebrate both the improvements and the efforts made towards them. Provide a platform for team members to share their ideas and feedback regularly. This improves processes and shows that you value and trust their input, reinforcing their commitment and trust in the team.


Result: Embracing Kaizen leads to a culture of continuous improvement, where team members consistently look for ways to enhance their work and processes. This fosters innovation and adaptability. Regular recognition and celebration boosts morale and creates a positive, forward-thinking team environment.


Conclusion

By fostering an environment where authenticity is valued, autonomy is supported, and continuous improvement is encouraged, remote teams can build strong, trust-based relationships that drive success and innovation. 


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