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The Importance of Trust in a Project Team

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 6/2/2011

Your project team is full of different personalities with assorted work habits. You want them to work as a cohesive unit—but do you have trust issues? Trust and project teams are essential if you want to achieve you goals. Read on to learn how to build trust in your teams.

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    Why Have a Team Full of Trust?

    There are many reasons your teams should trust one another and you should trust the team as a whole. Failing to recognize trust and project teams is an essential element of your workgroup, and lack of it can be detrimental to your project. Here, we’ll discuss some commons trust issues and how to fix them.

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    It’s Not My Fault!

    The Blame Wheel Often, there’s the one team member that drops the ball and continues to argue that any trouble issues were not his or her fault. Knowledge is power, and if you aren’t specific about who is doing what and when certain element are due, how will the “it’s not my fault" team member really know if he's wrong? Team members who do this over and over again lose the respect and trust of the other team members—did you ever wonder if this one person just needs to be in on the decision-making a little more? Make sure every member of your team knows exactly what is expected of them and when.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    The Absentee Team Member

    Let’s face it, all project managers have experienced the team member who can’t be found, misses meetings, and has a lackadaisical attitude. Have a one-on-one with this team member and if they don’t improve, ask how valuable are they, really, to your team? Leaving this personality type on your team will make your team lose trust in you.

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    The Waiting Team

    The Waiting Team Do you have teams that wait for other team member to pass along an Agile Sprint or coordinate user stories? If so, you are leaving team 2 in the dark with nothing to do. Not only does this make your team lose respect for your management skills, none of your teams will want to work with them again. Communication is key in managing projects—make sure everyone realizes how important their assigned tasks are to the entire project.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    Wishy-Washy Management

    Do you really direct your teams, or do you just go with the flow? If you just are along for the ride and you let your teams make all the decisions (including the big decisions), then if the project fails, whose fault is it really? It’s your fault—learn how to manage teams effectively and stay involved in the day-to-day process and progress of the project.

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    The “Debbie Downer" Team

    Debbie Downer Much like “Debbie Downer" of Saturday Night Live fame, if you have one team member that is always pessimistic, the team will damage your project. Again, here you must evaluate how you choose your teams and make sure skill sets match as well as generational styles and work habits. Make your life easier and rid yourself of the pessimistic attitudes by mixing them with some positive attitudes.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    It’s the Best We Can Do

    Every project managers dislikes the words, “it’s the best we can do," especially if they know that’s not a true statement. If you don’t let your teams know what is expected of them and do indeed accept their poorest effort, your trust and project teams will grow at a fast rate and you’ll find yourself wondering what to do. Outline what is expected; and if you have a poor team effort, jump in and work with them until they get it right.

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    We Never Did That Before

    We Are Confused With the emergence of the many different types of project management methodologies, if your team has never used Six Sigma but you expect them to be experts at it, you’re not telling them you trust them to succeed—what you’re really saying is that you expect them to fail. No matter what project management methodology you use, make sure your team understands it and has had the proper training.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    Team Building Can Build Trust

    Often, trust comes with the day-to-day involvement when team members work as a unit. If your team can’t seem to “get it," why not utilize some great team building exercises to help your team become a well-oiled machine?

    Trust and project teams isn’t something you should ignore, and your project management leadership skills should allow you to spot this lack of trust if and when it occurs. Learn the importance of trust in your teams, hold brainstorming sessions on how it can improve and, above all, be a good listener and let everyone have their say.

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