As people leaders, it can be hard to build trust with your employees. When you’re leading a new team, it can be especially difficult. Over the past year, leaders have experienced a tremendous amount of team turnover. According to Josh Bersin, 40% of Americans changed jobs, roles, or managers in the past year. As you can see, there is an unprecedented level of change at the people level within our organizations and teams.
Why is team trust important?
Building trust as a leader is more important than ever, and it will continue to be going forward. A team that trusts each other communicates, solves problems, and performs at a high level. People will feel safe to express their views with confidence they will be heard. Problem-solving will be more divergent, and your solutions become more innovative over time.
How to build trust when you’re leading a new team:
Showing vulnerability is one of the strongest signals you can send. It shows the team that everyone has weaknesses, and that is ok. As a leader, you don’t have all of the answers. And you probably don’t expect your people to have all the answers either. Be more open about what you don’t know.
What you get in return is a team that accepts weaknesses, mistakes, and failures. It will also help you learn what people are good at and where they might struggle when it comes to job assignments. You’re going to have to learn new things as a group. You will explore new areas that allow people to show their skills.
Set an example for your team when it comes to accountability and reliability. Assign yourself a task in a meeting. Set a timeline and an expectation of what the outcome should be from your task. Complete those tasks on time, and come back to the team with what you found.
You will begin to set a stage of accountability, expectations, and follow-up. The key when assigning tasks to others is to communicate expectations. Don’t just ask someone on your team to do something for you and walk away. Think, what do you need to be completed, and by when? Also, make sure to provide a space for your team to ask questions. They need to know it’s ok to ask clarifying questions. Make sure you’re following up on the dates you set for completion. Ask for status updates as needed.
Seek to understand
Asking questions will be another powerful tool for building trust with your team. Always take the time to understand the situation to gain a better perspective. It would be foolish to assume and then act. Asking good questions will allow you to gain empathy for the situation. Ultimately you’re looking for better decision-making based on all of the information you have available.
On top of the additional information, it allows your team to express their feelings. Some may be a champion of a process or a decision, while others may have significant concerns. Seeking to understand allows you as a leader to make sure many voices are heard.
Explain the why
People generally want to know why decisions or requests are made. Even though they may not ask you why. Your team probably won’t ask. People can be shy and they might feel like asking why is a sign of resistance.
Explaining the why behind a decision will be critical for you to gain buy-in from your team. You need to take the time to explain how the decision fits in with the larger picture. What is the connection back to the company strategy? Take the time to determine how you will explain to your team why a decision is made. A remote work environment will take more effort because you need to increase the level of communication with the team. Don’t expect everyone to agree with a decision. You’re asking the team to understand the decision and why it was made. It’s ok to have a dialogue here if needed to gain alignment.
Get to know your employees
Take the time to learn about your employees beyond the job they are doing for you today. Try to understand what motivates them. What kind of work do they like to do? What kind of work do they not like to do? You won’t always be able to control the flow of work. When you can though, this type of knowledge could be valuable.
F.O.R.D. is an acronym used in Sales as a way to deepen a relationship with a prospect or customer. The idea is that when you meet someone to make it a point to learn about their Family, Occupation, Recreational activities, and Dreams. As you can see, this is a good template to deepen any relationship. Sales, or team building, the method works and gives you easy topics to ask about. Credit to James Foxall for this approach.
Ultimately what you get here is a deeper understanding of your team and what motivates them. You will gain a better ability to lead your team by knowing where they are strong and motivates them. Versus assigning work, or tasks that may be difficult for them to accomplish based on their skills.
Building trust is easier said than done, right?
Ok, so now you have a few tips to gain trust within your new team. What next? If you have noticed that trust is an issue within your team, don’t wait any longer to do something about it. Lack of trust can erode a team quickly. If you’re new to leading that team, that is difficult to recover. Be open and honest with your team about what you’re trying to accomplish. That is the best way to get their buy-in.
Are you wondering how to improve other critical leadership skills in your organization and make a measurable impact? Check out: 7 Ways to Make Leadership Development Programs Worth It.