Building Trust in a Hybrid Workforce

Building Trust in a Hybrid Workforce

Organizational Health Practice

For a team to work well together there needs to be trust between the employees, leaders, and organization. For hybrid teams, building trust essential.

As hybrid workplaces are becoming more common, leaders may wonder how they can trust teams as they work in different environments. To answer this question, it is important to consider how leaders trust in-person teams. If we can work off the premise that employees who are trustworthy in person will be trustworthy no matter where they are working, it may make this question less concerning. By considering employees’ past and current performance, you should get a good sense of what can expect from them. Do they do what they say and get their work done? If so, there is no need to worry if you can trust your employees. 

While leaders shouldn’t worry about how to trust employees in different environments, the questions remains: how do you build trust in hybrid workforce if it’s not there yet?

Types of Trust

First, let’s look at some of the types of trust. Trust has layers. It can take time to build and breakdowns are inevitable. The ASC DOC model, as seen below, was originally tested in healthcare and is now being used across all industries. There is a lot of value in understanding how the types of trust are related, as there may be times when you have Task Trust and not Relational Trust or vice versa. 

Relational Trust (ASC)

  • Authenticity: your words and actions can be taken at face value
  • Safety: others feel safe, secure, and protected with you
  • Consistency: your behaviour is predictable

Task Trust (DOC)

  • Dependability: others can expect you’ll do what you say you will do
  • Ownership: others see you own the outcome
  • Competence: you have the skill and experience to do what’s expected

In the early stages of a team’s life, developing relational trust is the most important. As relationships within the team mature and you have built the required foundation, the shift to task-related trust becomes a focus. 

Why Trust Matters on Virtual or Hybrid Teams

Trust is important in every relationship, personal or professional. When it comes to the workplace, fractures in trust are far more visible and fragile in virtual teams than in teams that can interact face to face. 

When trust exists within your team, you will experience a different relationship with employees —they are more likely to experience a level of contentment, cohesion, and commitment. As well, individuals are more likely to feel confident in risk-taking, which helps us get better at what we do.

“We innovate at the speed of trust” – Stephen Covey

Priorities for Building Trust in a Hybrid Workforce

Now, how do you build trust within a hybrid workforce? With these five priorities, you will naturally build trust within your teams. 

  1. Psychological safety – This is the shared belief that a team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. Without this sense of safety, employees don’t raise their hands with new ideas, or with emerging concerns.
  2. Empathy – Leaders that apply empathy put themselves into the shoes of their team members and take interest in the problems they face in the course of their work.
  3. Relationships – Cut loose a bit by encouraging non-work talk. This may seem counterproductive, but is a vital tool for building authentic, trust-based relationships that make work go smoothly. 
  4. Trust model – Test the trust model with your teams by inviting feedback. Ask how the team rates on these measures. Where are we excelling? How can we improve in the future?
  5. Shared leadership – Shared leadership occurs when the roles or behaviours of leadership shift from one person to another by giving team members decision-making authority over their area of work. Shared leadership is also a time-tested way of developing leadership. 

Lastly, as you consider your team’s work environment and how to assess or build trust, think about the resources you have internally. These will support and impact your environment specifically your HR practices, benefits program, and health and wellness programs.