Developing Cohesiveness: Building a Culture of Trust

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As part of our Trust Series, “Developing Cohesiveness: Building a Culture of Trust” was presented by Todd Bradley and Carrie Galdes from MSU HR. They highlighted how the T-shaped professional - with both depth of knowledge and breadth of application - can contribute to a team by bringing the deep knowledge of an area to creative connection with team members across disciplines.  

Dear WorkLife,

My colleague told me about a great session that your office facilitated at one of your annual WorkLife conferences.  The presenters were named Todd and Carrie.  They were from MSU HR.  Can you tell me a little bit about that session and how I can get more information?


By keeping team participation respectful, professional, proactive and solution-focused, different kinds of deep knowledge and individual input can contribute effectively to better outcomes. Of course, stress is inevitable, as is change. So dealing effectively with stress can empower teams, and individual team members, to favorably influence change. There are all kinds of ways to address stress, from self-care like exercise, sleep and relaxation to openly talking and listening to resolve differences or clarify processes and roles. Since the way we choose to think about things influences our feelings, and feelings influence behavior, we can manage both by using the STOP technique: when we go down a rabbit hole of negativity for example, we need to stop, listen/pay attention, and change that reaction to a more constructive, proactive response. 

Carrie talked about 4 stages of team formation - forming, storming, norming and performing (with conflict resolution mixed in).

  • When we’re forming a team, we have lots of energy and motivation to get together and accomplish something.
  • Then we tend to “storm” a bit about just how we are going to do it, who does what, what’s most important, etc.
  • Eventually we get to “norming” where we have agreed on the scheduling, priorities, distribution of labor or roles, decision-making criteria and so on.
  • We can then perform and achieve the goal.

There is lots of conflict resolution along the way, but that’s another session! It’s easy to see how that process eventually leads to interpersonal relationships that rely on commitment, cooperation and trust. With those relationships as a foundation, we can develop clear processes and procedures, define who will do what in terms of roles and clear responsibilities, toward well-defined goals and objectives. 

The “Art” of Thinking, The way we think, influences how we feel. The way we feel, influences how we behave. Our thoughts are ours to own. Control thoughts by using the “Stop Technique”

Todd and Carrie went on to detail how:

  • teams can build trust through respect and candor,
  • overcome conflict by asking constructive questions, 
  • refraining from personal attacks,
  • and achieve commitment through clarity and buy-in.

Strong teams hold one another accountable, and leadership sets that tone, through a culture that expects team members to help one another improve and move ahead effectively. An unrelenting focus on desired results helps keep the team on track, providing a compass point and purpose for getting through the forming, storming, and norming to high performing.

If your team could use some help in any of these areas, contact Todd Bradley at, or Carrie Galdes at, or call Solutions Center at Human Resources, 517-353-4434.

"Ask WorkLife" is a new series produced by the MSU WorkLife Office.  Our team receives hundreds of questions every month from staff and faculty across Michigan.  When themes emerge, we compile the questions into a blog post and provide some answers here on our website.  Please understand that every situation and person is unique!  We encourage you to schedule a consultation with a WorkLife team member in order to discuss your specific circumstance.