You don’t need to be face to face for the right trust building activities to work like a charm and help your team grow
“If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers.” –Roger Staubach
Teamwork. Trust. They’re easy words to toss out. But how do you bring them to your team? Trust building activities and team building activities are easy enough to find, but when you get down to the grit, it’s your relationships that make things work.
Especially in the case of remote teams, building relationships on trust is an essential component of successful teamwork. You have to trust that your colleagues in another time zone can meet deadlines for clients, can fill out reports without hand-holding, and have the drive to work toward goals, and the self-awareness to create excellent work.
The challenge in developing that trust comes from a very specific place for remote teams. According to Psychologist World, body language accounts for 80% of human communication. And writing for Psychology Today, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., points out that “your body language reveals information about your personality, intentions, and attitudes.”
That can be problematic for remote teams since so much communication is through email, text, or instant messaging. While they certainly have a place, and are incredibly useful, they lack the visual cues we use to enhance our communication. For that matter, they also lack the aural tones that signify things like humor, confusion, and emotions.
So how can you build strong working relationships when you’re missing so much in your communication? Video calls are an ideal start. They give back many of the non-verbal communication cues that you miss with strictly text conversations. In fact, planning occasional video calls is the first of several trust building activities that can help a remote team bond. But once you’re on the call, are there trust building activities you can use to amplify that connection?
Trust building activities that your team will actually enjoy
1. Show and tell
Remember in second grade when you excitedly tried to find the right toy to bring to show and tell the next day. It was an exciting moment to share your passion, your prized possession, with your friends. Good news. You can still do that.
On your next video call, ask each member of your team to take one minute to share something with the group. It doesn’t have to be complex; something as simple as a favorite photograph or vacation memento can suffice. While this might seem like another “get to know you” task, this can help build trust.
In a paper published by the American Psychology Association, Dr. Peircarlo Valdesolo and Dr. David Desteno note that finding similarities with another person “interests us in their well-being, and motivates us to help on their behalf.”
Set up some games that will help your team get to know each other better. Having fun together promotes bonding even when people aren’t in the same location.
2. Have lunch together
Sharing a meal is one of the best ways to get to know other people. It’s even in our vocabulary with phrases like “break bread together,” “our pie in the sky goal,” and, of course, “coffee break.”
Though it may seem awkward to share a meal via skype, it will feel more natural over time. Share a meal once a week or even once a month as a lead in or conclusion to your team meetings.
3. Share in charity work
Obviously, that’s great for individuals, but can sharing a volunteer project build trust within your team? A study in Ireland found that “87% of employees who volunteered with their companies reported an improved perception of their employer.” Overall morale and productivity increased, as well.
You can work with an organization like Habitat for Humanity to make your next company retreat a volunteer project. If you’d like to do something more immediate, ask your team to come up with an organization or cause everyone can participate in. Give them three hours each week to volunteer, then compare notes on your next video call.
4. Share the lead
While it is important for a remote team to have a strong manager, the team leader could be anyone at any given point in time. Rotate team leaders on your calls and ask that person to set the agenda. Your marketing person can discuss the specifics of a marketing plan, or your software engineer can share updates on current projects.
The goal in sharing a leadership role is to give people the opportunity to share their skills and to take ownership of their work.
5. Take your time
There are numerous trust building activities you can facilitate, but time is one thing you can’t control. Building trust, building relationships, take time. You can help move a relationship forward, but ultimately, it’s time that does the real work of building trust.
Trust building activities are just one of many ways to find success as a remote team leader. At Sophaya, we pride ourselves on giving professionals the tools they need to thrive in a changing work environment. Get in touch today to learn more about your successful future.
Photo by Louis Hansel