Team Trust anti-patterns

Smart organizations and teams are taking proactive steps to improve trust climate. Nevertheless, despite their best intentions, at one time or another all of them break trust with each other.

Of course in each case, the reasons for destroying the trust are different. I was starting to collect a trust anti-patterns and today I’d like to present you my list.

  1. Micromanagement
  2. Distortion of information
  3. Mistrust leads to mistrust
  4. Undercover games
  5. Blame
  6. Break schedule
  7. Conflict in behavior
  8. Withholding information and context
  9. Talking behind someone’s back
  10. Lack of commitment
  11. Lack of onetime communication
  12. Unclear communication
  13. Strong rules
  14. Public punishment
  15. Being dishonest
  16. Cronyism and favorites
  17. Lack of competency
  18. Lack of respect
  19. Delegation of errors and mistakes
  20. Lack of responsibility
  21. Reporting (specially daily)
  22. Work of competitors (espionage)
  23. Useless KPI
  24. Internal competition
  25. Lie and betray
  26. Unhealthy competition
  27. Unrealistic expectation
  28. Negative feedback
  29. Annual performance review

Probably, there are many reasons and anti-patterns destroying trust, but I have a feeling that understanding how to overcome it will be more valuable.

2015-01-27 12.33.46

To help a team or whole organization overcome the trust trap, I crafted a set of anti-pattern cards. The main idea of anti-pattern cards was to create a tool for teams which teach them to deal with issues around trust. Let’s consider how you might use it below.

You might utilize this deck together with your team. Just put them on a table and define and structure your thoughts with stickers around the cards. Each card helps you to start a dialogue around problematic issues.

This deck can be combined with existing techniques and tools . You can utilise it for coaching sessions, problem solving, in retrospectives and workshops. In addition to this I would like to share several practical examples.

Cluster on wall/flip-chart

  • Pick up a few anti-pattern cards that you need to consider.
  • Give participants the opportunity to generate any ideas around it (silent brainstorm).
  • Stick cards to the wall using tape.
  • Map post-its around them.
  • Look at them and discuss solutions.


Team Trust Grid

Use the cards as the headlines in a grid. Utilise it to consider different aspects and perspectives (for example from manager side, team and etc). Each column might represent ideas of how to handle this anti-pattern.

2015-02-09 22.04.17


Use flip-chart (or sticky tape) on walls to create timelines. Let the timeline demonstrate your team life cycle. During the sprint (or project) team members can put a card on the timeline when he/she faces any issues. Then you will discuss it during retrospectives.

Do you have any ideas how to apply it? Or maybe you have your own set of trust anti-patterns? Please, send to me or share it.

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