Building Trust in Hybrid Teams

//Building Trust in Hybrid Teams

Building Trust in Hybrid Teams

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship and becomes even more pivotal within hybrid teams. Stephen MR Covey’s book – The Speed of Trust showed that high-trust environments have increased productivity, innovation, and employee engagement. In hybrid settings, where face-to-face interactions are intermittent, trust is the invisible thread that binds teams together.

What once seemed simple is now more complex. People are present and absent, physically, and virtually. Increasing trust within a hybrid team requires a blend of clear communication, empathy, consistency, and a genuine effort to understand and address the unique dynamics of a dispersed team.

Here are key strategies that will help you as a leader:


Transparent and Open Communication

The hybrid model, a blend of remote and in-office work, introduces a paradox: the need for autonomy and the human yearning for connection. As a leader, you’re tasked with a delicate balancing act—fostering independence while ensuring no team member feels isolated or overlooked. The key lies in consistent, transparent communication and equitable treatment of all team members, regardless of their physical location.

Establish regular and open lines of communication. This includes clear updates about the company, team goals, and individual roles. Transparency in decision-making processes also helps in building trust.

Ensure that both remote and on-site team members receive equal attention and opportunities to interact with leadership. This might involve rotating in-person meetings and virtual check-ins to ensure fairness.


Cultivating Trust Through Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical for building trust.  Leaders with high EQ are adept at recognising and addressing the emotional needs of their team members, fostering a sense of belonging and security.  Leaders who exhibit empathy and genuine concern for their team members’ well-being are more likely to cultivate a trusting environment.

Show genuine interest in your team members. This can be through acknowledging personal milestones or challenges and offering support where necessary.  Checking in on how they are as a person, not just how they’re doing with tasks.  Empathy builds relational trust and demonstrates that leaders care about their team beyond work tasks.


Measuring the Impact of Trust

Quantifying the impact of trust can be challenging, yet it’s reflected in the team’s overall performance and morale. High-trust teams are characterised by increased agility, stronger collaboration, and a higher propensity to innovate.

You see this in things like delivering on promises and following through on commitments. Consistency between what is said and what is done is crucial. This might mean delivering on project timelines, supporting team members as promised, or following up on feedback.

You also want to encourage autonomy.  Show you trust your team by delegating meaningful tasks and providing the autonomy to complete them. Empowering team members to make decisions enhances their confidence and trust in both themselves and your leadership.

Lastly look at the quality and frequency of feedback.  As in how much are people giving to each other, and to you and is it useful.  Show the way by offering regular motivational and developmental feedback.  What do you appreciate or notice them doing well?  What could be tweaked to take things up a notch?

Leaders can gauge the level of trust through regular feedback mechanisms, employee engagement surveys, and by monitoring team dynamics and performance trends.


The Role of Authenticity and Vulnerability

Authenticity and vulnerability are often overlooked in traditional leadership programmes.  Brene Brown’s research highlights the power of vulnerability in leadership, showing that leaders who dare to be vulnerable not only humanise themselves but also invite trust and connection. She has written several wonderful books on this.

In a hybrid team, small acts of authenticity, such as sharing personal challenges or uncertainties, can significantly bridge the physical divide, fostering a culture of openness and mutual support.

A word of caution on vulnerability and sharing, which links back to EQ.  Ask yourself why you’re sharing this.  Is to help the person hearing or are you sharing something which is going to send them into a tailspin.


Seven Other Ways to Increase Trust

Everything I’ve mentioned so far works and has an obvious business link. And as humans, we want to connect, belong, and get to know each other better. So here are some ideas you can use as they are, or as inspiration to help increase trust.

  1. The Morning Brew Ritual

Kick-off with a virtual hot drink of choice catch-up, where work talk is a no-no. Instead, it’s time to get to know each other better, be vulnerable, and have a laugh. This could be a moment to share your recent attempt at baking a cake for a friend that fell apart while you were taking it out of the tin. (I have several baking disasters I can share.) Or that time your pet photobombed your important presentation. Laughter is a glue that bonds the team in unexpected ways.

  1. The What I Need- o-Meter

Implement a fun, weekly “What I need-o-Meter” check-in. It’s a playful, no-pressure way for team members to express or ask for what they most need this week.  Is it a moral boost, laughter, support with a presentation, space to be left alone/low key etc.  Get creative in how they express this, so aside from just asking, which is fine, you could use emojis, GIFs, or even homemade memes to keep the vibe light and engaging.

  1. Virtual High Fives

In the same meeting as the above, you can also celebrate wins of whatever size.  The more people share their successes, the more resilient and resourceful they become.  It’s not about recognising only the big achievements but about the small victories, too.  Did someone finally conquer the dreaded spreadsheet monster? Or share an idea that they would have kept to themselves in the past? Or turn their PC off at 5:30 pm and not check email overnight?

  1. The Digital Campfire

Host monthly “Digital Campfire” sessions where team members share stories.  This might be about work, their personal adventures, dreams, or even the latest book/film/series that captivated them. It’s about warming up to each other’s lives outside the office.

  1. Facilitate Team Bonding

Organise team-building activities that cater to both remote and on-site team members. This can be virtual team lunches, online games, or in-person retreats, helping to strengthen interpersonal trust.

  1. The ‘Walk in My Shoes’ Workshop

Have a “Walk in My Shoes” workshop where team members exchange roles or shadow each other for a day. It’s a way to appreciate each other’s challenges and triumphs, deepening empathy and, you guessed it, trust!


Embracing the Future with Trust

As we navigate the complexities of the hybrid workplace, trust remains the enduring thread that holds teams together. It’s the silent language of leadership that speaks volumes through actions, empathy, and a commitment to genuine connections.

For leaders, mastering the art of building trust is not just a leadership skill but a strategic imperative that shapes the future of work.

The payoff in terms of team cohesion, resilience, productivity, and overall satisfaction can be significant.


Ready to increase trust in your team, get in touch.


2024-04-16T11:04:08+00:00By |Uncategorized|
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