a team without trust is like a rocket without fuel
— Mark Batson Baril

About Building Trust in Teams


Here’s why we got to know trust

Our niche is in helping teams use conflict and tension to increase their performance so they reach objectives faster. Over the years it became clear that without high levels of trust in place as a foundation, heightened conflict competency was an elusive goal.

resologics team trust.jpg

Once this clarity took hold it became obvious that a prioritization of fundamentals to focus on put Trust 1st followed in close 2nd place by Conflict Competency. The higher the trust was the higher the team could push its conflict competency and creative tension. There is a direct correlation. As we looked for techniques that specifically took on trust building in teams, the realization hit that nobody had come up with a simple model to help teams take a deep dive into trust conversations and behavior change. Patrick Lencioni and his team of consultants came closest, yet there was still a piece missing to this vast puzzle.

Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a team Pyramid

Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a team Pyramid

"As hypothesized, a survey among 113 employees in 14 manufacturing work groups showed that creativity-related conflict with coworkers escalates into dysfunctional relationship conflict when focal employees have low rather than high trust in those coworkers." - Onne Janssena, Ellen Giebelsb. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology.


Here’s what we’re doing about building team trust

Clearly there must be a simple and fast way to build trust in a team, right? Don’t fool yourself. This holy grail of team dynamics is as complex as it gets, and, when a conversation is structured well, a well marked road can be put before the team for it to travel down.

Resologics Team Exercise:
(if this might fit your team, shoot us a note and we’ll send you an outline agenda, timing ideas and cost basics)

Let’s start with the juicy stuff. Logically you’d think that most of us use the same set of parameters in the same way to develop our level of trust in someone or something. Right? What we found is that can be true, and that there are differences, and in some cases vast differences, in the way we each formulate our trust for others. In other words, we don’t all trust or distrust for the same reasons (and we have data to prove it). That was the ton of bricks hitting us moment!

trust rocket

So now what? How do we use this information to get this trust thing buttoned up tight in teams so we can get onto our real job - normalizing conflict?

We now deploy a coached exercise into teams that uses a simple interactive model as a road map to a deep conversation. We use an in-room assessment and an online assessment to highlight similarities and differences, and we guide a safe conversation to wherever the team needs/wants to go.

Exercise Deliverables:

  • In depth safe conversation about normalizing trust and striving for higher levels of trust.

  • Deeper understanding about how trust works at an individual contributor level and a team system level.

  • Common language around trust and behaviors.

  • Fun, memorable, impactful team experience.

  • Behavior change. Higher trust levels.

  • Gain an understanding of how trust influences dynamics of the team and organization as a whole.

A Taste of The Trust Formula Model:

Based on an in-depth review of the research, the literature on trust in humans (and primates), and data from more than 400 Resologics respondents, a formula has come into focus that looks like the following:

Resologics Trust Formula.jpg

Trust is the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party (Mayer 1995).

Both trust and distrust involve movements toward certainty: trust concerning expectations of things hoped for and distrust concerning expectations of things feared (Lewicki, McAllister, and Bies 1998).

Propensity to Trust:
The propensity to trust is a general willingness to trust, or not trust, others or things. One's propensity to trust will influence trusting behaviors before data has become available about someone or something. Propensity to trust is an individual trait built over time through experiences, culture, personality types, genetics, etc.

Trust Factors:
A trust factor is a piece of data used to determine the level of trust to apply to a situation. Through a review of research in this field, and our experience with teams, we have narrowed the factors that influence trust to ten. These factors are the core of the exercise.

Trust Factor History:
In all cases our history of interactions sits on a continuum that stretches from unreliable to reliable. While the trust factor is the raw data in our trust calculation, the number of times we experience, or lack the experience, of the factor behavior helps solidify our trust position and level. We calculate that if something has happened enough times, it is likely to happen again.

Level of Risk:
Every time we are considering the trustworthiness of a person or situation, we are also engaging in risk-assessment. In high-risk situations (i.e. a decision about a new caretaker for a child), this multiplier will be a large factor in the calculation compared to low risk situations (i.e. a decision about where we will have dinner tonight).