How To Build Trust With Your Virtual Team (Part 1)
Updated: May 26
“Be careful who you trust, the devil was once an angel”.
It’s safe to say that we are skeptical as to who we trust and who we put our confidence in, and for good reason. People let us down, whether it be family, friends, loved ones, or colleagues. But they say if trust doesn’t require risk, it wouldn’t be trust. And without trust, fear is the only possibility.
It helps people understand that everybody is impacted by the actions, judgments, and expectations of other team members. It’s difficult enough to build trust in co-located teams where it’s relatively easy to meet up for a coffee or grab dinner, but one can assume that building trust in virtual teams can be a unique and different kind of challenge.
In this 2-part article, I’m going to share 3 techniques that you can use to continue to build trust within your virtual team.
Tip 1: Keep the team as small as possible.
Larger teams are often more difficult to control, communicate, and build trust with. The larger the team, the more overwhelming it becomes both logistically and psychologically.
Instead, try to keep your teams as small as possible. This makes it easier to communicate, cooperate, and form trust.
Smaller teams also make it easier for managers to have more 1-1 time with each team member so they can better understand their employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. It also allows team members to get to know their colleagues on a more personal level as well.
Tip 2: Make sure your first impression counts
When we meet someone in person, we usually size them up within the first few seconds and reach a conclusion as to whether they will be friend or foe, and the same thing happens when we first interact with someone virtually.
So how do we make sure that we make a good first impression in the virtual space?
One way to do this is to show enthusiasm for both the project and the team during the first initial messages. Telling your team members how excited you are in getting to know them and how you’ve been looking forward to the project for a while can really help boost trust and likability.
Tip 3: Task and communication reliability
Because of the absence of physical interaction, trust within virtual teams all comes down to reliability, for both tasks and communication. If team members can’t rely on their colleagues and managers, then ultimately there is no trust.
In regards to task reliability, it’s a good idea to start the team off with short, simple tasks and interactions. Have the team get together before the project begins so they can offer their input and bounce ideas off each other.
These kinds of simple tasks and interactions set the tone for how the rest of the project will go and demonstrates to the team that they can rely on their colleagues when it comes to completing tasks and projects together.
Next, there’s communication reliability. Team members need to trust that there will be consistent communication for the entirety of the project and that they will remain connected.
This doesn’t mean that everyone constantly needs to be “on” and must respond immediately to every message sent their way, but it does mean that team members need to be able to count on their colleagues responding and communicating with them when necessary.
Funnily enough, actions and behaviors that are viewed as trustworthy build trust.
Keep the team as small as possible, show enthusiasm for the team and project during those first initial messages, and set up short and simple tasks and interactions for the team to partake in so they can learn to rely on each other. Express the importance of being able to rely on their team members when it comes to communicating important messages.
Before you go...
If connecting with your colleagues and employees is important to you, and if effective communication is something you’re lacking within your team or organisation, then I have a free guide/cheatsheet where I give you 10 top communication strategies that you can apply straight away to help you connect with your team and close the communication gap. You can download it for free here: https://ascommunications.wixsite.com/guide