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How to build trust in your organization

Companies love Agile because they hear about the great results it can bring to the delivery capability of their IT organization. It's true that Agile companies achieve increased delivery speed, however, they don't realize they MUST change in order to achieve the promised results.

For many organizations, one of the areas that must improve is a core area of Trust. A lack of trust can have a huge impact on any organization, because it reduces transparency and communication, limits ability to meet the needs of our customers and inhibits creativity and innovative ideas and solutions.

Many books have been written on the subject, but the best I've read was The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team written by Patrick Lencioni. Many of my team coaching techniques are based on the techniques I learned from the book.

So how DO you build trust in your organization?

Be Vulnerable

One of the first things I do when I start coaching a new team let them know that I give myself 3 DUHHH's a day. That means that I'm know I'm going to say something stupid or make a mistake at least 3 times a day. Admitting that I am human, and therefore going to make mistakes, allows them to open up and admit the same thing, and eliminates Fear of Retribution when they do. I've taken it a bit further recently, and renamed those days when I have a few more mistakes to "Duh" days, as in MonDUHday and WednesDUHday, which also brings some humor into situations that might otherwise be awkward or tense, and allows the team to bring their whole selves to the problem we need to solve.

Be Reliable

On an individual basis, another thing you can do to build trust is doing what you say you will, when you say you will. This can require you to get much better at only committing to what you CAN accomplish without overburdening yourself, and even as an Agile Coach, this one is extremely hard. However, the use of timeboxes has helped me accomplish more than I ever thought I could, in a sustainable way. I get a lot done, and rarely work more than 40 hours a week.

Be Respectful

Building trust with others can start with openness and vulnerability, but it needs to finish with respect. Respect that others may not see things that same way as you, have the same strengths as you, or the same weaknesses. Respect their uniqueness and what they can contribute, and stop expecting them to give something they're not designed to give.

Be Kind

Building trust with others means that you don't have to be nice, but you should do your best to be kind. It lets the person you're working with know that they're valuable to you, that you enjoy the relationship, and that it's important enough to kindly communicate.

Be Truthful

Building trust with others means you speak the truth, but you say it in a way that doesn't harm the other person. Don't attempt to manipulate them, and when you tell them something they might not want to hear, only say it if you care about their personal growth.

There's a very simple saying that helps me remember how to build trust: Mean what you say and say what you mean, just don't say it mean!

How do you build trust in your company?

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