INFOGRAPHIC: 5 Tips for Building Trust in a Virtual Team

| By Terence Brake

Virtual team performance is heavily dependent on achieving trust in relationships

In very short-term projects, swift trust might be sufficient.  By swift trust, I mean the condition in which team members assume trust is present because they have no other choice; they must trust immediately to get results fast.  Swift trust tends to be fragile and is inadequate over longer term projects.

What is trust?

Trust is a decision.  You decide to trust or not to trust.  Trust means you have confidence in others - you can rely on them to fulfill promises, e.g. take care of your interests or meet your expectations.  Distrust or ambivalence means you lack confidence – you are more suspicious and guarded.  Trust connects people, distrust separates them.  For Stephen M. R. Covey in The Speed of Trust (Simon & Schuster, 2006) , trust is a performance multiplier, not a soft, social virtue.

What are the components of trust?

Trust is made up of two components: character and competence.

  • Character:  Relates to how we go about getting results – it is the inner world that shapes our behaviours and includes our integrity, our motivations, caring, humility, and our ability to align our actions with our values.
  • Competence:  Relates to our abilities for achieving results based on attitudes, knowledge, skills, experiences, and education.

Both components are necessary for trust, but in short-term virtual projects more weight is placed on competence.

What are some key lessons about developing trust on virtual teams?

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