Six ways to build trust with your project teams

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey

Trust matters. Trust forms the basis of relationships in team environments and is an essential factor for design and construction teams, ownership, and other project stakeholders. During my career I have experienced both ends of the trust spectrum and points in between. In some cases parties are unknown entities far away and in other cases parties are fully engaged in the design and construction process.

Lack of trust has real consequences (including financial) in the decision making of project teams. Lack of trust can lead to inconsistent decisions, unclear priorities, redesign, over or under designing, and indifference.

Teams with strong relationships and trust communicate more effectively, come to better decisions, and have fewer unexpected outcomes. Trust allows parties to operate and make decisions with confidence in a swift, effective manner without having to stop and evaluate decisions and potential outcomes based on a host of real or perceived uncertainties.


Building trust is not always easy given the variables in human personalities and interactions. However, there are some fundamental things that can be done (by all project stakeholders) to build trust across teams. Do these six things to form a trust foundation to build from.

  1. Introduce (or introduce yourself to) key project stakeholders and get to know them.
  2. Communicate (or ask what are) key stakeholder objectives (schedule, quality, price points, etc).
  3. Handle contract matters efficiently and fairly (contracts, invoices, scope changes).
  4. Communicate regularly.
  5. Follow through on commitments.
  6. Take the time to say thank you (both directions) once the task is done.

Doing these regularly will communicate to other team members that you are engaged and sincere in your desire for positive project outcomes. These relatively small investments in time over the course of your project will pay dividends in many ways, and in many cases beyond the current work at hand.

– William Bethurum PE, Principal VoltaUS


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