Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers


July 13, 2023

Author and public speaker Don Yaeger once said, “Camaraderie doesn’t happen by accident; developing a strong sense of trust, accountability, and togetherness around team goals requires intentional effort.” Building a culture of camaraderie within your program starts from within, and it requires real work. But like anything worthwhile, the work you put into it forms positive habits that will pay off in spades and have a positive influence on program staff and students. There’s a science behind everything, so of course there’s a science behind camaraderie! Let’s explore the facts and see what you can do to foster camaraderie from within. 

Trust the Process 

Trust is integral to building a lasting program. Did you know that, according to the Harvard Business Review, people who work in high-trust environments report 74% less stress, 76% more engagement, and 40% less burnout than people who work in low-trust environments? Furthermore, people in high-trust environments reported feeling more productive and energetic. That’s powerful! Clearly, trust is a key ingredient in the camaraderie cake. But how would you begin? Here are four ideas for building trust: 

  • Recognition: Recognize excellence among your staff. Believe it or not, neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest impact on trust when it’s given soon after the goal has been met. Personal and genuine recognition inspires others to aim for success (and it’s a perfect excuse for an impromptu staff celebration). 
  • Leadership: Lead your staff but encourage them to manage projects and guide students in their own way. Letting staff know you believe they can figure things out in their own way is a huge motivator. Furthermore, guided independence fosters innovation naturally because different people will try different approaches. 
  • Honesty: Be open and honest about the inner workings of your program. This approach reduces uncertainty and promotes healthy communication.  
  • Humility: Apologize often — and mean it. Apologizing can feel awkward or embarrassing sometimes, but normalizing it will lead to an unintimidating environment where people feel comfortable with making mistakes without feeling judged. 

Learning the Ropes 

It’s no secret that as humans, we’re just learning the ropes day by day. Will we get it right every time? Surely not. But modeling camaraderie is one small thing you can do to boost your team members’ trust in you, in themselves, in each other, and your program. Try to do one thing every day to build trust and camaraderie. Those “little things” can add up to make a big difference!  


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