In last week’s installment, we discussed four proactive ways that managers can utilize to forge trust with their teams at work: be sincere and understanding, use honest and open communication, make realistic promises and keep them, and be predictable. This week we will discuss four more great steps to consider, so that you can take your team to new levels of performance and fulfillment.
You should strive to be the caretaker of confidential and private information—be “the vault.” When we protect the confidence of those who seek us out in the workplace, we convey the same respect and trust that we are trying to build with others.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t commit to keeping someone’s confidence unless you can agree to the terms. Blind promises do no one any favors, and you never want to put yourself in a position where you’re protecting someone engaged in criminal or unethical behavior, detrimental to themselves or the health of the business.
Thus, you should establish a mutual understanding of the confidence, what’s expected from both parties, and only make agreements to which you can remain true.
One of the most proactive ways that managers can build trust is by also building a reputation for being responsive and available to their employees. When employees feel that the relationship is a two-way street—where the manager grants them access and also seeks their feedback—their confidence in their own ability to perform to expectations increases exponentially.
To pave this two-way street, managers should use an open-door policy that welcomes and respects the honest feedback of their employees. They should also proactively offer timely guidance and help their teams accomplish tasks and solve problems.
Great managers are candid as they share information, advice, and suggestions to their employees for being more successful in their work. And last, but probably most important at times, the very best managers identify problems early and proactively engage their employees to solve them before situations mushroom into major conflicts.
The most underused concept in building trust is through setting and sustaining high performance standards. Teams derive their self-respect, as well as the respect and trust they have for their managers, based to a large degree on the expectations and the example set before them.
There’s no better way to complement high performance standards for your team than with high standards for your own performance. This not only extends to constantly exceeding your own metrics-oriented goals (sales revenue, operational efficiency, customer satisfaction rating); it also extends to embracing your own professional growth and development through a commitment to learning and getting the coaching you need to be more effective. It almost goes without saying that your team, when they see these exemplary behaviors, will follow suit and trust you on an even higher level.
This also means that managers should stay committed to availing themselves of external issues that can affect their team’s performance, such as staying current on economic conditions, regulations, or customer trends that can affect the company and its results. This consistency of staying attuned to your own professional and personal credibility, with regard to the business and its performance, is contagious.
The final area where managers can have a tremendous, proactive impact on forging trust with their teams is in demonstrating character and concern for others. Managers should always be thinking, “How can I define and clarify my core values for my team?” In our fast-moving, constantly evolving times, many elements—economic conditions, technology, politics, and the law come to mind—can influence our core values and character—but only if we let them.
Managers need to keep their character and concern for others consistent, even when these elements come to bear in the workplace. You should think about how you treat people and address your own past inconsistencies in both good and bad times and learn from them. That’s personal evolution in order to build trust.
Also, a measure of character is your ability to have faith in those around you. Just as you may believe in your family and friends, you need to extend this core belief to your colleagues at work. Seek to find common ground and earn cooperation with a minimum of pushback by exhibiting character and concern.
Finally, give serious thought, each time you make a decision, on the impact it will have on others. Consideration of others is easy when times are good, but we all know that managers often have to make hard decisions—“that’s why we get paid the big bucks” is the old cliché that comes to mind. Have the character and concern for your team to let them know your level of consideration, and share with them the negative impacts as quickly and honestly as possible. When the going gets tough, show people that you’re equal to the task.