How to Win the Trust of Your People
We all wish we lived in a world full of honest people, including leaders. But we don’t. While many of us worked for those we trusted, some of us have worked for people who, over time, we came to distrust. So as a leader yourself, it’s important to realize that it’s through this lens that your team may view leaders in general. While it’s quite possible that honesty is one of your strengths and that you have all the right intentions to be fair and truthful with others, “trust” in and of itself is never a given in any relationship, especially between you and your employees. It must be earned over time. Fortunately, leadership provides opportunities to do this every day. There are moments big and small in which you can choose to build the respect of your people. Or, you can make decisions that do just the opposite. However, since it’s your responsibility to motivate performance and get positive results, you’ve got to earn and maintain that vital respect. Building trust is how you do that.
MAP’s consultants talk a lot with their clients about why trust matters and, more importantly, how to win and nurture it in the workplace. No doubt, there are countless ways to do this but you can certainly increase your people’s capacity to trust you if you give them the power to excel and own their success. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Don’t be a micromanager.
You likely know what this looks like. As we talk about in MAP’s top-selling leadership book, “The Disciplined Leader,” the micromanager is the boss who can’t let go of whatever task he or she has assigned to others. Does this strike a chord with you? It’s one of the most common challenges leaders face. In fact, at MAP, we often have clients come to us who are even micromanaging their high performers. Usually, these leaders are afraid to let go of certain tasks, or they have a habit of getting caught up in the details of work they’ve assigned. Consequently, their A+ hires end up feeling distrusted and resentful. And the leader, focusing on their work instead of his or her own responsibilities, doesn’t have the bandwidth to effectively lead and complete other vital responsibilities. So remember, when it comes to micromanaging—as long as you’ve got the right people on board, in the right positions—there really is no reason to be meddling in their work. You’ve given them “the power.” So step back if you really want to “empower.”
2. Train your people.
This is really about giving your employees what they need to do their jobs. Specifically, it’s about proactively making sure they have the knowledge and skills to do their work now and as time goes on and demands change. Train them and you will empower them. But more importantly, provide the kind of support that aligns with their goals and those of your organization while always being selective about where you spend your training dollars. Do your homework and don’t sign up your people for just anything or because some workshop is the latest flavor of the month. Build individuals up in the right ways, according to true need and with proven solutions that deliver consistent ROI.
3. Measure with accountability.
People want and deserve a fair and unbiased way for measuring their performance. The best way to do that is with a proven accountability system that consistently measures people’s performance, takes appropriate corrective actions, and recognizes good results. Without such a system, leaders often struggle with issues like employee favoritism, low employee motivation and morale, and work cultures that feel like either a jail, where everyone’s afraid of all the rules, or a country club, where people do whatever they want because few to no rules exist. All these situations and scenarios lead to a lack of respect for leadership, where the people ultimately don’t trust the person in charge. But when leaders implement and uphold a solid accountability system, it’s a game-changer. Do this and you’ll find it puts the right rules and measures in place. These factors level the playing field, inspire productivity, and eventually drive positive performance and results. So use this system and keep it running like a well-oiled machine. Your people will come to trust in it and, in doing so, will also come to trust in you.
What are some other ways to win the trust of your people?