Five Ways to Build Trust From a Distance

11/2/2016

These days, organizations are becoming more global, and with globalization comes the emergence of more diverse and dispersed teams. While many organizations rely heavily on diverse and dispersed teams, also called virtual teams, they have to overcome barriers related to different time zones, technologies, languages and cultures.

The best way to improve the coherence and productivity of diverse and dispersed teams is to lay the foundations of trusting relationships among team members and leaders.

In order to do this, leaders can adhere the following trust-building guidelines:

Use Virtual-Communication Tools

To make sure everyone is informed, leaders should send out regular update emails that bring external employees up to speed on the most recent developments. Web conferencing tools are also a good way to keep ties among external employees strong. Since most diverse and dispersed team members have little face-to-face interaction with their colleagues at headquarters, any form of virtual communication that includes a live video feed is preferable and helpful for building trust across a distance.

Trust Readily

To best develop trust between colleagues within an organization, leaders should start the business relationship by assuming they are trustworthy. Instead of requiring that employees prove their trust to their leader on a regular basis, team heads should allow them the opportunity to work knowing that they have their boss’ full support. Only when an employee fails to live up to expectations or abuses the relationship should their supervisor withdraw trust.

Maintain Honesty

Maintaining an honest and open working relationship with external colleagues is fundamental to establishing trust. Leaders must model transparent and ethical behavior and encourage openness among their team members. When leaders create a transparent environment, their staff will feel that they can trust them, and will also work toward maintaining openness.

Increase Availability

External workers need to feel like they can contact their managers and colleagues at any time. Employees may view leaders and colleagues who do not maintain close contact suspiciously. If a team leader cannot be available during the typical working day, they should establish guidelines for when and how external employees may contact them.

Maintain Consistency

Trust is achieved through a mutual understanding of what is expected of each individual in the workplace. Leaders must strive to treat each situation and employee with a similar approach. If each employee feels that they are trusted and respected the same as their peers, they will bring a higher level of commitment to their work.

Whereas diverse and dispersed teams face many challenges, a strong sense of trust in their team leaders as well as their colleagues is the best foundation for productivity and engagement. Team leaders play a valuable role in creating a trusting work environment in which all team members can thrive.