I'm often asked by managers and executives for advice on how to build trust with their teams. People are hoping to build trust overnight, when in fact in can take months and in some cases even years to establish.
One of the ways we establish trust is by making sure our actions (behaviors) match up with what we are saying. Too often in organizations, there is a huge gap between what is said and what actually happens.
Here are some examples:
Managers promising employees that this will be the last lay-off and their job is safe. The next week the company does yet another round of lay-offs.
We say we want our employees to succeed, yet we fail to be specific in what we mean by this. We don't tell them specifically what we expect so they are able to work towards meeting our expectations. Then at review time, we tell them what we really think!
We are less than honest in our communication. An example of this would be failing to tell someone why they were passed over for promotion. Instead, we sugar coat things because we don't want to hurt their feelings. Eventually, they will figure it out. But at that point, trust is broken.
Here are five ways to build a trusting relationship with your team.
1. Be truthful. If you take this path, you will never be caught in a lie. If you are in an uncomfortable situation where corporate says that you cannot share specific information with your staff and they ask, simply say that at this point in time you are unable to respond.
2. Own up to your mistakes. No one is perfect. If you make a mistake, admit it and move on. Your staff will respect you for your honesty. They'll also believe you are human.
3. Don't make promises you cannot keep. No one, and I mean no one, can promise someone that they will have a job forever. Business needs change, life changes. The last thing you want to do is tell someone, who you've promised lifetime employment, they no longer have a job.
4. Ask for input from team members. Show your employees you value their opinions. You trust their recommendations. Trust is a funny thing. It's quite contagious.
5. Be respectful. Nothing build trust faster than respect. Sure they'll be differences between what you think and what team members think. But that's a good thing. Otherwise, you'll have a bunch of people doing exactly what they're told, as they march your company right into the ground.
A trusting relationship is vital, particularly in hard economic times when we are asking our employees to do more with less. We are asking them to trust that in the end, we will take care of them. Make the investment and you'll have employees following you as you move through your career. Trust me on this.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions
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