Leaders in organisations have an almost impossible task. They must deliver on the goals of the organisation. They must lead, develop, and encourage their teams. They must get their work done. And then they must honour family and other commitments outside the workplace.

This is not easy, especially now in the time of Covid-19, with many team members still working from home.  Leaders are concerned about whether the work is getting done. Is everybody pulling their weight? Will the targets be met? Are the deadlines achievable?

The starting point in dealing with this conundrum is trust. When you trust someone, you have a firm belief in the character, strength, or truth of that person. You can count on that person to come through for you regardless of how difficult a situation is.

Trust is elusive, it takes time to build but it can be lost in one unguarded moment. An organisation with high levels of trust is an organisation where people commit themselves fully, they don’t have to watch their own back. They know they are supported and that they will not be micro-managed. We all want to work for an organisation like this. We want to be recognised and respected for being able to work independently for the good of the team. But where do we start, where do we begin the task of building and repairing trust?

The process of building trust starts with us. If we trust ourselves, we will trust others. Self-trust flows from healthy self-esteem, that you are a worthwhile human being. Self-trust enables you to protect your own needs and safety. You have faith that you will make it through challenging situations, and you practice kindness toward yourself rather than pursuing perfection. Self-trust involves being aware of your thoughts and feelings and being able to express them. You honour your emotions and avoid relying on the opinions of others. You live according to your standards and ethics and know when to put your own needs first.

Build TrustLook at your behaviour with your team. Are you constantly looking over their shoulders? Are you demanding constant feedback, even when the work is progressing in an orderly manner? Do you insist on explaining in minute detail how a team member must perform a task? If you answer yes to some of these questions, you may have a trust deficit.

You can build up your trust quotient in the following ways:

1. Be true to your word

In another age, there was a saying: “A gentleman’s word is his bond.” When we discard the awkward anachronism of the term, we are still left with the need to honour our commitments. When we say we will do something, we must do it. And the converse is true, don’t make promises you cannot keep. You will hurt people’s feelings more if you take on a responsibility you cannot fully deliver.

 

2. Make decisions carefully

Think through your decisions – how you allocate work and how you follow up on work being done. You should be able to come to terms with not taking on a workload you can’t efficiently perform. You also need to listen to your team. They may have burdens in their home life which mean that they cannot give their full enthusiasm to that additional parcel of work.

The truth is that you shouldn’t need to feel as though you need to monitor the productivity of your remote employees. Nor should you have the time too! By adopting these five simple strategies, line managers should find it easier to both build and maintain trust across teams, boosting productivity and creating a great employee experience in today’s world of work:

 

3. Build relationships

Get to know your team. Find out about their hidden skills, their personalities, and their work preferences. Find out what it is about their job that provides them with meaning. And always deploy your team members in their area of strength. Your top-performing salesperson might make a dreadful administrator. Get someone to focus on the admin and let the salesperson sell.

 

4. Create a space for collaboration

Create events and opportunities for team members to get to know each other outside the workplace. It is easier to trust someone you know. This will build trust not just between you and your team, but also in your team as well.

 

5. Communicate clearly

Sometimes we speak in shorthand when we delegate tasks. What the recipient hears is not always what we had in mind. And when they fail to deliver, we are disappointed and our trust in them is eroded. Take time to communicate and test for understanding.

It can be easy to distrust a team member who fails to deliver, but the reason for failure must be determined. Did that individual fail because they didn’t care, or did they fail because of weaknesses within the remote working policy that created gaps between expectations and results? Always be clear and realistic and give your team a chance.

 

6. Be proactive

Having trust in your team means you have the confidence that they will complete their tasks independently, without your watching over them. Help them by ensuring they have everything to complete the task and confirm the output you are seeking. And sometimes you must let your people make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world, and valuable lessons are learned.

 

7. Recognise individual strengths

When you recognise the individual strengths of your team members you will have the confidence that you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Develop their strengths, help them to grow and they will thank you with trust.

 

8. Avoid self-promotion

Nobody likes a boss with a big ego. You are only as good as your team.  Encouraging and recognising teamwork builds trust and fosters collaboration.

 

9. Admit mistakes

Nobody is perfect. We all mess up from time to time. Instead of hiding the fact, or finding a scapegoat, come out and admit that you were wrong. Your team will respect you for this, and it will encourage them to come forward when it is their turn to own up.

 

10. Do what you believe is right

Your ethics and values are at the core of who you are. Remember in the beginning we spoke about being true to your word. If it doesn’t feel right, or it jars with your sense of right and wrong, don’t do it. Lying or shady practices will destroy trust in a moment. Sometimes in the short term, there can be a price for standing up for your values, but in the long term you will be able to live with yourself, and that lies at the heart of self-trust.

When you build a team that trusts you and they, in turn, trust each other, you make a valuable additional contribution to your organisation. These capabilities tend not to go unnoticed by top management. Building trust is a great skill and will stand you in good stead throughout your career.

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