Building trust and psychological safety: Key pillars for effective team collaboration in credit unions

As a leader in a credit union, you understand the importance of fostering a solid and cohesive team. Two vital elements that underpin successful teamwork are trust and psychological safety. An organization focused on developing these two areas creates an environment where employees feel empowered, valued, and supported, enabling them to bring their best selves to work.

The power of trust: Trust is the foundation for building solid relationships. In a team setting, trust allows members to rely on one another, share ideas openly, and collaborate effectively. When trust is present, team members feel comfortable taking risks, expressing their opinions, and being vulnerable. This fosters a culture of innovation, problem-solving, and adaptability.

Creating psychological safety: Psychological safety refers to the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up, taking risks, or making mistakes. In teams with a high level of psychological safety, individuals are more likely to contribute their unique perspectives, challenge the status quo, and engage in healthy debates. This enables the team to make better decisions, learn from failures, and drive continuous improvement.

Practical examples and ideas for improvement:

  1. Lead by example: As a leader in your credit union, you set the tone for trust and psychological safety. Encourage open communication, actively listen to your team members, and demonstrate vulnerability by sharing your challenges and learnings. Remember, everyone is watching you. Nothing you do is small. Everything sends a message.
  2. Establish team norms: Collaboratively define team norms (sometimes called a team charter) that promote trust and psychological safety. For example, encourage regular check-ins, create a safe space for feedback, establish acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, and establish a no-blame culture that focuses on learning and improvement. Develop these norms as a team and hold each other accountable for adhering to them.
  3. Foster inclusivity: Actively seek diverse perspectives and ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Encourage introverted team members to participate by providing opportunities for written contributions or one-on-one discussions. Celebrate different viewpoints and use them as catalysts for innovation. None of us is as smart as all of us.
  4. Encourage feedback: Implement a feedback culture where constructive feedback is valued and appreciated. Encourage individuals to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns openly. Recognize and reward learning from failures as an essential part of growth.
  5. Provide development opportunities: Invest in programs that empower employees to enhance their skills and knowledge. When individuals feel supported in their growth, they become more engaged and committed to the team’s success.
  6. Embrace transparent communication: Keep team members informed about the credit union’s goals, strategies, and challenges. Transparency builds trust and ensures everyone is aligned toward a shared vision. Regularly communicate progress and provide opportunities for input and discussion. The more you involve your people, the more they will be committed to the success of your credit union.
  7. Team-building activities: To build strong bonds of trust, people must connect at a deeper level. Organize team-building activities and retreats to build trust and strengthen relationships. These activities can include problem-solving exercises, trust-building exercises, and opportunities for social bonding.
  8. Conflict resolution: Even the best teams sometimes have a little tension. Address conflicts within the team promptly and constructively. Encourage open dialogue and active listening to find mutually beneficial solutions. Provide mediation support if necessary, emphasizing the importance of maintaining trust and psychological safety within the team.

It is impossible to have a high-performance credit union without high-performance teams. Take the time to focus on the items above to build and maintain a strong culture of teamwork focused on serving the needs of your members.

John Spence

John Spence

John Spence is widely regarded as one of the top executive coaches and business experts in the world. Over the past 15 years John has helped several credit unions to ... Web: Details