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Building Trust with Your Team

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Wanjun Zhuang asked the members of the LinkedIn Agile Coaching group about earning trust with his new Agile team.  In his words:

Team members will consider me as a manager. They do not know much about coach role, although I give them information about difference between manager and coach. Coach is a member of team or the one that observe team's behaviour and give some suggestion? Sometimes team do not want to share much with coach and they think that coach is the one who checks their performance.

Melanie Haven Gilbert suggested that paying it forward is a good way to earn a teams trust:

Trust and respect in teams are earned so it will take time. It's not usually possible to get trust from a team right from the beginning. In my experience, being interested in the team's priorities is a good start. Advocate for those needs. Protect them as well you can from outside politics. Be honest and transparent about what you know and don't know, and follow up on the things you don't know. Being consistent in these things will earn you their trust and loyalty.

And Tim Yevgrashyn suggested that transparency might be the key:

Make your work transparent. Write issues raised on Daily Scrum and clearly commit on resolving them. Report on next Daily Scrum after all developers about the progress on those issues, even if they are organizational and non-development. Make everyone see that you working as hard as they do and you help them in this way. Also, make sure everyone understands what your process is and what everyone is expected to do. Sometimes it is more critical than understanding "why" do they do this :-) With time their practical experience may show that the way they work is good and skeptics will be your allies.

Michael Badali, suggested using a "manager's kanban"

Try using "manager's kanban" and dedicate yourself to solving X problem, let the team choose, they need to respect the cap and let them see that you are solving problems of their choice. Column 1 : problems I am dedicated to solving; column 2: done. Simple & transparent.

While this reporter suggested a "simple but not easy" model for building trust:

Simple (but not easy): Make a small commitment to the team. Meet it. Make a slightly bigger one. Meet it. Make another larger one.... You get the idea - it is a spiral model and once you miss a commitment you get to start from the beginning! Check out

This is not the first time we've reported on building trust on InfoQ:

Building trust is an important issue in all teams - not just agile and lean teams - but it seems that it is much more important for those practicing any of the myriad of agile processes out there because without trust there will be no real feedback.  And without feedback, the effectiveness of agile and lean processes come to a halt.

Finally, trust - as are all human dynamics - are very strongly influenced by culture.  The question was asked by a coach in China and largely answered by coaches in the U.S. and Europe - does this matter? What are your experiences with building trust in your environment? 

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