In the book “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni – trust is paramount to successful teams. Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level, and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviors.
The following Rapport Leadership process is something you can use to help garner more trust called “Circle of Trust”.
Understand how your actions and behaviors influence the strength of your relationships. Become aware of what you can specifically do to build trust with each member of your team.
Each action, or lack there of, will have a trust-building or a trust-diminishing impact on the strength of any relationship. Every relationship is ‘individual and unique’ and can only be developed with a personal understanding of the needs and wants of each person. Taking the time to give and receive feedback as it relates to building trust will create an environment for improving team communication and collaboration. The Circle of Trust exercise provides a safe, open environment that helps to facilitate the development of high-trust relationships.
Prepare a PowerPoint slide or flip chart that lists Trust Influencing Behaviors (see below). Produce multiple copies of the “Trust-Feedback Template” so each person has a copy for every team member participating in the Circle of Trust exercise (20 participants will require 400 copies – template provided below). Prepare a page that lists participant names and provide a copy of the Trust Influencing Behaviors.
Start by asking the participants about their definition of trust. After several responses, ask the participants how they build trust with their teammates. Allow approximately 10 minutes for discussion.
Explain to the participants that trust is often referred to as an intangible thing that exists or does not exist in a relationship. We hear statements like, “I trust you” or “I don’t trust you” or “We have trust” or “We don’t have trust.” This Circle of Trust exercise will allow each participant to share specific, tangible feedback with a team member about the one most important action they can take to build trust with them. For example, John may tell Mary that the most important action that she can take to build trust with him is to listen more. Then Mary may tell John that the most important action that he can take to build trust with her is to follow-through on his commitments.
Hand out the list of Trust Influencing Behaviors as well as your prepared list of participant names. There are 80 behavior categories listed and each participant will have an opportunity to choose the most important behavior (or one of their own) that each of their team members can demonstrate in order to improve the level of trust in their relationship.
Hand out the “Trust-Feedback Templates” to the participants. Each participant will need a page for every participant in the room (i.e., if there are 20 participants, each person will need 19 templates). Give the participants approximately 15 minutes to fill out the top half of the “Trust-Feedback Templates.” Ensure that they select only one Trust Influencing Behavior for each of their teammates.
Have the participants move their chairs into two concentric circles with pairs of chairs facing each other. If there are an odd number of participants, place one chair on the outside of the circle. Have all participants take a seat facing their partner with their completed “Trust-Feedback Templates.” Explain to the participants that the outer circle of participants will be rotating clockwise during the exercise and the inner circle of participants will remain stationary in their chairs throughout the exercise.
Before beginning the Circle of Trust, explain that each of the partners will have two minutes together before the facilitator tells the outer circle to rotate. Each person will use the following feedback approach:
“The most important thing you can do to build trust with me is ____________.” A very short explanation is allowed.
The receiver will summarize the feedback and ask any clarifying questions. The feedback must be specific as each person will have only one minute to share their most important Trust Influencing Behavior. The purpose is not to dialogue at this time, it is simply to create an immediate awareness of the most important action each participant can take to build trust with their teammate. Encourage the participants to build on these initial conversations, at a later time, to continue the building of high-trust relationships.
Every two minutes the facilitator will ask the participants to stop, exchange “Trust-Feedback Templates” with their partner, and then rotate clockwise. This will continue until all members have had an opportunity to share feedback with every other team member. (If there are an odd number of participants, have the person in the chair outside of the concentric circle rotate in and one person rotate out when the facilitator calls time.)
Use the following questions to debrief the exercise:
- What did you learn about trust?
- Did you experience any patterns or consistency in the feedback you received?
- How do you plan to follow-up on the feedback?
- How will improving trust impact your organizations culture?
- How will you apply this exercise to your personal life?
Trust is built through the behaviors, actions and interactions we have with others. All of our actions and behaviors have a short and a long-term effect on the people with whom we surround ourselves. As we get conscious of our own actions, we can take the necessary steps to improve our interpersonal and interdependent relationships. Make a commitment to enhance and deepen the trust in every relationship in your life!
Trust Influencing Behaviors
- Avoid anger/frustration
- Avoid blaming
- Avoid complaining
- Avoid defensiveness
- Avoid judgments
- Avoid living in the past
- Communication (open, direct)
- Consider long-term impacts
- Eliminate gossip
- Feedback for improvement
- Following-up/following through
- Full disclosure
- Keeping promises
- Open minded
- Positive attitude
- Positive feedback
- Share vision
- Share information
- Spend more time
From ___________________ To ____________________
The most important thing you can do to build trust with me is:
Additional information (optional):
(To be completed by the receiver of feedback at a later time)
Below you will find links to Rapport’s Circle of Trust process …