The Trust Connection for Managers

The Trust Connection for Managers

I heard it at a recent managerial planning meeting.  “Listen,” someone said, “we move at the speed of trust”.  Referring that there were those who could not be trusted, so workflow stagnated. The problem was very visible; but no one seemed to be doing anything about it.

A friend of mine, a successful team consultant (Steve Fairfield of Teamwork Principals), informed me that this was a Stephen M.R. Covey quote.  There it was…a relevant leadership quote standing the test of time!

I began to wonder about trust in the workplace and how managers and teams effectively interact, connect and work with excellence.  We often use this word, “Trust” to construct successful teams, strengthen relationships and have people fully engaged in their work.  It seems to build slowly and can be ruined in a split second.

Trust resiliently unites you and your employees. If it is absent, it will be literally impossible to get your team to realize great performance outcomes.  How do you bond with those on the team?  What do your employees think?  Do they trust you or do they work in a secretive cynical way, with suspicion and doubt? For you and each other?

It goes deeper than a fun “trust fall” team building exercise with your team.  It goes beyond pretending it is present.

Trust starts with the manager. Building confidence starts with you. It begins and carries on with the way you think, listen, respond, and act according to your personal core values and purpose. It’s how you consistently treat and serve others with respect and professionalism. It’s allowing you to serve authentically with vulnerability.

Trust moves with you!  People watch you manage – to see how you respond to work situations, what you say and how you behave.  If there is inconsistency, favoritism, or hypocrisy between your beliefs and your actions – especially with the treatment of others, your team’s ship will capsize.

People and teams desire authenticity. Employees need the real you – don’t wear masks, or pressure “sell” or fabricate messages to protect your position or title.  Yes, you have to remain positive and deliver difficult messages during organizational change. Some of the best moments of building trust are when managers share the real story; solicit honest input, apologize after betrayal, show appreciation, and rely on the strengths and ideas of the team to move forward.

Trust and integrity are faithful teammates for managing with excellence. Your employees will trust you because you have demonstrated reliability, consistency, approachability, and genuineness. Here are some qualities of this strong partnership:

□      Employees know you have their back. You gladly serve them with words and action.

□      You have allowed them to know you.  You have built their confidence through truth, coaching support and inspiration.

□      When you make a mistake, apologize and learn from the wrong choice. Don’t pretend you know it all.  You don’t.  

□      Stay humble and ask for help to solve problems – particularly with those with complimentary strengths

□      Protect and treasure confidentiality with each employee

□       Be genuine and praise people for utilizing their strengths to achieve their goals.  See it, share it, and celebrate it.  Avoid flattery.

□      And as you want to be treated, treat others the same.

Keep trust at the forefront of your interactions with your team. If you express disingenuous motives, over promise delivery and even micro-manage people (not allowing your team to make decisions), good people will be frustrated. Good talent will leave.

I know several brilliant employees who are extremely frustrated with managers who are inexperienced, inconsistent, indecisive, or more concerned with self-preservation. They are managers who don’t think much about trust.  They can devastate an organization.   

Frequently communicate the ingredients that develop a rock-solid trusting work climate. Confront and cleanse distrust.  Search deeply for the potential damaging temptations in yourself. Do your best to eliminate bias and favoritism. Be transparent. Ask defining questions that bring authentic answers. Clarify. Be patient if extra time is needed for healing between you and employees.

Frequently measure your trust factor.  Be wise, candid and ask your team – often– about the trust they have for you and explain the trust factor you have with them.  Use a “Trust Scale” with your team and determine ways to strengthen the foundation of trust.

Ask each team member, what does your best trust day on the team look like? Have them explain it.  And listen.  Really listen and accept the sincerity of the answers. Then serve. Strive to repeat the best trust days – between you and your team and between each team member.

Trust needs time. Take the time to prioritize, mold it, shape it and keep it in excellent shape.  Unswerving trust moves workflow more effectively and efficiently. You need the incredible strengths of each team member.  Your employees offer a working wisdom that far surpasses your solo efforts. They know what trust looks like better than you. You need your team. They need you.

The wise king said it best, “Those who trust in their own reasoning are fools, but those who walk in wisdom will be kept safe”. 

Stay powerfully connected with trust.

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