Adapting From Traditional Practices
Trust is complex – it is often seen as an attribute an individual possesses (such as when one says another is a trustworthy person), but in actuality this trustworthiness is earned through action and is thus a behavior. In a virtual environment it is the development of trust behaviors that is essential. Brothers, and Reina & Reina (as cited in Nemiro, et al., 2008) confirm this fact: “Extensive research shows that trust is built behaviorally” (p. 156). Leaders must be aware of the complexities involved in developing and maintaining trust within their virtual team and, therefore, take a multi-faceted approach focused on the behavior of trust. A well rounded approach would include the following: leaders should make every effort to have at least one face-to-face meeting with each member, or with the team, before the team/project is launched (focus on developing or confirming trust in the leader’s abilities by team members); leaders must clearly demonstrate their confidence in each member’s ability and trustworthiness (once members trust the leader, and the organization, they will adopt the leader’s trust of other members); leaders should establish timelines with check points where accountability will lend itself to task-related trust (mutual trust is confirmed as both the leader and team members fulfill their commitments to one another and the team); leaders should utilize trust building tools in order to identify trust issues and maintain ongoing team trust (trust can be broken, it is the leader’s responsibility to nurture trusting relationships); and finally - leader’s should involve early adopters amongst the team in the training of the technologies the team will be using (member-to-member experimentation and co-learning will build relationship and trust amongst members).