During COVID-19 and the move to work from home, many managers have had difficulty in navigating the challenge of leading a remote team. What has been revealed is that the lack of trusting relationships is one element that is seriously impacting the success of these teams. David DeCremer said, in a recent opinion piece, that “research shows that establishing trusting work relationships makes companies perform better over time and even outperform companies that do not have a strong trust culture”. To help managers who are experiencing this struggle, I am re-posting a blog I originally shared in 2017, with minor updates, which still provides relevant tips for building trust in today’s environment.
Trust Fosters Engagement and Motivation
Consider your career for a moment. Like me, you have probably had the joyful experience of working with people you trusted as well as the dreaded experience of working with those you had to guard against at every turn. Now, put yourself in each of those situations. When did you feel most engaged and motivated? I can place a pretty strong bet that working with and for people you trusted elicited the greatest engagement and motivation. Now, let’s turn the tables. How well have you built trust with your team and colleagues? Imagine the impact of creating a trust-based workplace on your quality of life as well as on your organization’s success, especially as we deal with the massive changes to the work environment over the past six months.
The importance of trust has been a consistent theme for years, both with leadership clients as well as in publications. An article by Melissa Balmain, published in Success magazine, was one that I particularly enjoyed and find it quite relevant for today’s circumstances. I’ve summarized her 8 Steps of Trust-Building below. You can read the full article here.
8 Steps of Trust-Building
- Be open
Set clear and realistic expectations with your team. Help them to see the alignment between their goals and the impact on the organization.
- Walk Your Talk
Reflect on your most important values and principles and whether you are actually living by them. Tie the actions you are taking with the values and principles that drive them. Even when you make difficult decisions that not everyone agrees with, you will be respected for staying true to your beliefs.
- Listen First
Stay present with what the other person is saying. Ask powerful, open-ended questions that elicit insight and are thought-provoking. Acknowledge that you’ve heard the other’s message by paraphrasing what they’ve said to check for understanding. Then, share your own thoughts, openly, honestly and without defensiveness.
- Say What You’ll Do, Do What You Say
As the article states, “Nothing boosts others’ faith in you like doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it”. Therefore, don’t overcommit. Be realistic when you make a promise to someone. This not only reduces your overwhelm because you won’t be working all hours to deliver on time, but also allows you to build trust, through actually following through on your commitments.
- Admit Your Mistakes
If something goes wrong, the worst thing to do is to try and hide it. Instead, share what happened and identify a solution to resolve the situation. By doing this, you encourage others to be open when things go awry and to use those situations as opportunities to learn and grow.
- Be Sincere
If you are talking about someone else, pretend that they are present to the conversation. Nothing destroys trust faster than wondering whether someone is going to say bad things about you behind your back.
- Avoid Stereotypes
Stereotypes exist for just about everything from gender, to race, to generational differences, etc. Ignore them. The reality is that we all have more in common than we think. Treat each person as an individual and trust will grow.
- Dive in
This is not about blind trust but what is referred to as “smart trust”. Stephen M. R. Covey states that “smart trust means weighing your impulse to trust against other people’s credibility and the opportunity and risks at hand”. Overall, the chances are pretty good that your smart trust in others will be worth it.
Your Trust Building Tips
What trust building tips have worked for you? Please feel free to share, in the comment section, both those that you’ve observed as well as ones that you have implemented yourself.