Trust in Project Teams: How to Get Rid of a False Theory
6 min read time
Why Trust, Hope, and, Expectations Make Your Project FailTrust in project teams has been long acknowledged as an important driver of high-performing companies. Within the context of business relationships, a trust includes believing that your team members will do the work, as well as believing that they will do it in a predictable and consistent way. Since most projects include a human or an emotional, relational element, trust is important. Without some emotional zest to kickstart a project and propel it forward, we would have still been living in the dark ages without innovation, including the remarkable era of digital transformation we live in. As a general rule, groups work better, faster, and smarter than individuals. But if we, as humans, are social and prone to collaborate, why so many groups dissipate, people depart projects without a word, and projects crumble to dust? Perhaps this common mistake of project management based solely on trust is due to the fact that we tend to ignore the shadow side of trust. The shadow side of trust is simple. With some people and under some circumstances it just doesn’t work.
Why and How Much is Trust Important to Project Management?There are two famous sayings about success, which look only slightly different if you don’t pay a 100-percent attention. The first one is: “The road to success is paved with failure.” The second one is: “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.” If you pause and think about them a bit more, you will notice that the difference is substantial. This subtle difference with a striking impact is a key factor which plays a role in the process of turning a project into a success or a failure. The first saying loosens the grip for the project manager and is, in a way, more reactive. The second puts the project manager in charge and is proactive. Working in successful teams is more about the second saying, which puts an accent to the importance of why you should support the relational, emotionally-based momentum with a clear plan and structure. Blind trust in project teams is not always the best option. Although it takes an element of risk to start your journey towards successful digital projects, relying solely on trust is not a good idea when people work increasingly across borders, participate on more than one team, and compete in a worldwide market. In the same way as a plan without action is just a wish, so is a project based on hope and luck – just a lottery game with minimal odds for success. No team is exclusively built on affective states, such as for example, hope, luck, or expectations. Expectations don’t always have a solid base in reality, hope is fickle, and luck is a gambling matter. In the realm of agile projects, where things change with lightning speed, it’s even more important to understand that trust in project teams must be accompanied by the meat and potatoes of effective project management – systemic monitoring and accountability tools.
Trust in Project Teams by Developing Trustless NetworksLuckily, today’s technologies provide the architecture to leave the rainbow land behind and stop basing your team’s success on hope, trust or luck. You can keep both feet firmly on the ground by making digital tools work to your team’s advantage. Think of the blockchain. It’s a perfect example of how trustless networks recreated years of contractual practice based on third-party assurance, simply by removing the issue of trust out of the game. In blockchain, trust is not an issue because it cannot be broken by the network members or the central guarantee due to the blockchain’s inherent capability for immutable, open, and transparent records. It is important to develop products and services in a healthy and safe environment but we should not rely on trustworthiness only. Trustworthiness in project management supported by a reliable technology infrastructure creates a distraction-free environment, which, in turn, has a positive effect on people’s well-being, productivity, and cohesion. Absolute trust is a danger for your team. Once broken, trust in project teams is difficult to restore, even after applying remedies such as an apology, a promise, and a subsequent series of consistent action. Even if a team member owns the role in what happened and you give time to restore the trust in a team that failed, it’s way more complicated to handle mistakes after they happen. Therefore, building teams without trust or trustless teams, like the blockchain is one of the key ingredients for completing successful projects with minimal chances to fail.
How to Create the Agency of the FutureThere are many ways, tools, and methods to ensure that you have a system for building trust in project management.
- The main idea that connects the dots for all of them is that we should not rely on trust, hope, expectations, and luck to deliver the project without providing the necessary infrastructure that expands the relational element.
- We should set clear goals and responsibilities and hold people accountable to them.
- We should have a good monitoring process and make sure that the things are delivering on time and in a good manner.