If team members don’t trust each other, will it affect the performance of the team? Yes, according to new research published in the Academy of Management Journal. This well designed study of 73 teams, consisting of 565 team members and 73 supervisors also offered partial explanation for how trust between team members affects team performance.
Trust is an attitude that represents our willingness to be vulnerable to others in situations involving risk. The degree of trust team members have in each other affects how they behave toward each other.
This study found that trust helped team members monitor each others’ behavior to make sure everyone completed work on time. The study also found that trust affected how much effort team members gave toward accomplishing team objectives. Trust did not have a significant direct effect on team performance. Trust enabled the specific “teamwork” behaviors of team members putting forth individual and collective effort and holding each other accountable for accomplishing team objectives.
Another recent study on trust in teams found that an effective way to ensure team member trust is simply to select team members that are generally more trusting of others and avoid folks that are not. People with a trusting disposition are more likely to find others worthy of their trust. We learn how trustworthy people are as we observe their abilities, integrity, and intentions (benevolence) toward us.
If a team member exhibits the following, getting them off the team should improve team performance:
1. Doesn’t credit others with trust until proven otherwise
2. Is Incompetent or repeats the same mistakes
3. Doesn’t care about others
4. Stands for work values the majority of the group does not share
5. Won’t hold themselves and others accountable for completing tasks on time
6. Consistently gives less than 100% effort to the team
If you lead a team or your business relies on teams to accomplish its work, you better give more than just lip service to trust. Trust me, it matters.