How To Close The (Mis) Trust Gap In A Team

My team is located all over the states. We seem to have communication and trust issues within our group. I wanted to come up with some team building exercises that can be done over the phone on one of our staff meetings. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions on any team building games or exercises? Please advise. Thanks for your help.

The Team Doc Says…

Trust takes time to build trust in a team. And the distance gap doesn't help. Here are a few things for you to try.

(And remember, these tips will work even if your team is not virtual.)

1. Take a look at your team goals and conduct a round robin discussion with each team member identifying their role in accomplishing the goal.

That will help tie the team members together. Make sure you — or your team scribe — capture the information as each team member is sharing it. Then recap at the end of the meeting after each team member has shared their role. Debrief by exploring how important it is for each team member to understand their part in a team goal and the dependency on each other.

2. Plan a meeting where team members will share who they depend on and why.

To ensure that no one gets left out, prepare ahead of time. Provide each team member with another team member's name and advise they will be required to share how they depend on this person to get their work done. While each member is sharing, draw the links of team member to team member on a piece of paper. Then after the meeting send this visual out to the team.

3. Alternatively, you could have a discussion about what each team member needs from others.

In a round robin fashion, have each person state a) who they need something from, and b) why they need it.

4. End each meeting by tying the relationships of the members together.

Encourage team members to share success stories about how “together” they accomplished a goal for the team.

It would also be a good idea to establish some groundrules for your team around communication, if you don't already have them established. It is really essential to team success and the distance barrier can create walls between team members.

If you do have groundrules, take some time in a team meeting to revisit them and make sure you have key communication areas identified. Take a look at Growing and Sustaining a Virtual Team for some additional help.

Let me know what you decide to do in your team and how these ideas work for you.

About Denise O'Berry

Denise O'Berry is President of The Small Business Edge Corp, a small business consulting firm. A small business owner since 1996, Denise understands the challenges facing small business. She's lived them herself and helped hundreds of clients work through the frustrations, fears, and joys of owning a small business. Denise is the author of Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success, a practical guide about keeping the cash in your business - where it belongs. Find more resources and tips at deniseoberry.com and askteamdoc.com