Strong personal relationships across organisational boundaries based on inter-personal and inter-organisational trust and confidence are recognised as keys to collaboration success. While it is widely acknowledged that trust is a, if not the, critical feature of successful and sustained collaborative relationships, less is known about how to build and sustain trust across collaborating organisations.
The development of trust depends on the professional and personal knowledge, skills and attributes of the individuals involved and the attributes and behaviours of participating organisations. The key individual and organisational factors identified for the development of trust between organisations are:
- business sense and functional competence, for example parties have the skills and resources to do the job
- integrity, for example commitment and good faith demonstrated in making and implementing agreements
- interpersonal competence
- open and honest communication
- consistency of behaviour
- judgment, for example accurate appreciation of partner capacities
- collaborative rather than hierarchical relations, genuine power sharing, shared decision making and leadership, and consensus building
- predictability, for example realistic and balanced expectations of partner contributions
The efforts of organisational partners and their representatives to develop trust and good communication will provide a strong foundation for sustaining effective collaborative relationships.
It is also important that partner agencies' expectations of the relationship be documented in the same way that agreed tasks and outcomes are documented.