shaking hands

Six Bridge-building Tips that Support Strong Teams

Picture yourself at work. You see yourself as a high performer, and you are happy where you work. You are confident in what you are doing, and you go beyond your role expectations. Do you picture yourself in this way? If this is how you picture your presence at work, you are experiencing a ‘safe place’ where trust is a norm, and the work of your leader to develop your teams can occur. So here is a rhetorical question for you: In your professional working life, have you experienced this ‘presence’?

It is not as difficult as it is made out to be. The link between building a trusting environment and building high-performing teams is to engage in specific tangible approaches. Building bridges between people to help them solve their problems creates this environment of trust. Below are some tips outlined to support this process. Incorporate them into your day, and you will find better days are ahead.

Communication – Think about your communication patterns at work. Do you send emails, jump on the phone, or make in-person visits? Consider what gets the best results and what works best for you to get the results you’re after.

Empathy – People can get frustrated at work. Listen to their concerns and read between the lines. There will be times when an individual’s workload will become too much for them to handle. Listen to what they are saying.  Does their frustration come across as complaining? Listen to the complaint; identify the core of the complaint. Sometimes complaints are clues to what processes need to be fixed. Consider this an opportunity to build a bridge to trust.

Create Lasting Memories – Do something fun at work. When there is a slowdown, get the gang together to enjoy some team building. This approach re-aligns stagnant behavior; new thinking approaches and allows others to connect in new emotional ways that they otherwise may not see in you. This bridge builds trust in fun and interactive ways.

Defuse Stressful Moments – Work has its moments, and smooth sailing will not always occur. These whitecaps on the water can rock the boat, but learning to self-manage and control one’s emotions can build powerful bridges that define a trusting relationship in challenging times. Understand the power your shadow has on others; walk with the sun shining brightly, not with the shadow of the umbrella hanging over others.

Secrets – There is no place in relationship building to keep secrets, they erode confidence and break the bonds of trust. Open communication is necessary. Be honest and upfront about objectives, approaches to achieve them, and work to solve challenges. Keeping secrets becomes apparent in communication; it wears people down, and takes energy to maintain them.

Learn to Say “No” – This can be difficult. Saying yes can seem like the right thing to do, but it is not always the best thing.  Know your limits, understand your current workload, and discuss openly about how to fit in new projects or be open to the discussion about what to prioritize. Having this open conversation can support a trusting and open environment.

Building trust in the workplace is no secret. Peer-to-peer relationships are built on trust. Manager to employee relationship can build these kinds of relationships in the same manner though there is a specific challenge that both managers and employees must learn to establish prior to reaching this level.  Work on it.  You will be happier for it.

Greg Price

Associate Dean

School of Applied Leadership