Why building trust on remote teams is critical to long-term success
Engagement 4 minute read

Why building trust on remote teams is critical to long-term success

Megan Orr | February 17, 2022

Trust is a crucial aspect of the employee/employer relationship, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Learn how you can build trust on remote teams and why it matters.

Employers need their employees to trust them. An employee who doesn’t trust their employer will be less engaged and less likely to stay with an organization long-term—or even short-term. Particularly on remote teams, it’s essential to build trust quickly and intentionally since there’s less face-to-face interaction and, therefore, less opportunity for organic trust building. 

Let’s Grow Leaders, a leadership development program, writes that “when it comes to building trust, human connection has always been a huge differentiator—and it matters even more during times of uncertainty and change”. 

One of the major ways to build trust on remote teams is to establish yourself as a competent and reliable leader. 

In order to be a competent and credible leader, you don’t necessarily have to know and be the best at everything. However, knowing your own strengths and creating a well-balanced team that complements each other’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to demonstrating your competence. 

It’s also important that leaders acknowledge each employee’s strengths and give them credit for their work. There’s no quicker way to degrade trust than by dismissing an employee’s efforts and taking credit for their work. 

Communication is an essential part of building trust on remote teams. Communicating effectively with employees not only sets clear expectations but also shows employees that you respect them and their time. Clear communication is another great way to establish competency and build trust.

Reliability is another key factor of trust on remote teams for both employees and employers. Do you consistently do what you say you will and hold yourself accountable when you fall short? It can take a lot to earn an employee's trust, but it only takes one action—or inaction—to lose an employee's trust. 

On remote teams especially, one of the pieces often missing is connection. 

The easiest way to build trust on remote teams is by creating a connection with your employees, but that can be difficult over Slack, Zoom, and email. Leaders need to make a concerted effort to get to know their team members on a personal level, which will help with engagement and build trust on remote teams. 

Both employees and employers want to be able to connect with one another, so leaders should work to be both interested in their employees and interesting to their employees. Share your excitement over certain projects or passions with your employees and they will feel more comfortable to do the same. 

Here are some specific ways that you can build connection and trust on remote teams:

  • Offer and request regular feedback. Creating a consistent line of dialogue between managers and employees will allow for employees to give honest feedback, as well as stay up to date on any expectations. 
  • Don’t micromanage. Constantly checking in with employees about what they’re working on, offering a non-stop stream of suggestions, and asking for a detailed list of tasks accomplished every day will suggest to employees that you don’t trust them. Building trust on remote teams is about letting the slack out a bit, showing employees that you trust them so that they trust you too. 
  • Create opportunities for connection. Allow employees to chit-chat at the beginning of meetings, host fun events, incorporate icebreakers into meetings, etc. to get people connecting to colleagues.
  • Emphasize transparency. Transparency is a key facet of building trust. Keep employees informed and be sure to lead by example by owning up to any mistakes.

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