As a business owner and leader, I am always thinking about my team. How are they doing on a personal level? How are they performing? How are they working together? I am forever mindful of the culture we create – intentionally or not – and am deeply aware of the impact a connected, cohesive, and engaged team, has on a successful business.
Recently, I was reading an article that reminded me of the importance that trust has in building a strong team culture. For my team to be willingly led by me, they need to trust me. When people trust their leader, they are more engaged, motivated, and collaborative. A high-trust organisation is one in which employees feel safe to express themselves and take risks, and as a result they’re often more innovative. All of which I want in with my team at The People Place, and I know other organisations are seeking the same.
Ensuring people have trust in you as a leader and in the business sounds simple enough—but in practical terms what does this actually look like?
Here’s what I see as being the fundamental building blocks of building—and maintaining trust, as a leader:
1. Take the time to build relationships
Get to know and understand your people – where they are from, what motivates them, their strengths, weaknesses, how they best take on board feedback, and what they need from you to feel empowered to deliver in their role. Strong relationships enable you to understand your people more deeply. Then, when you’re under pressure and need to deliver, you know how best to motivate and support them.
2. Act with authenticity, empathy, and integrity
Know who you are, so that you can be more authentic in the way that you operate with others. Your team will see you acting authentically and with integrity and empathy and are more likely to trust your intentions. Remember, none of us are at our best 100% of the time. Empathise with your team when they are going through challenges, and offer support. This will garner trust and loyalty, not just from those in your team going through challenges, but also others in the team who see how you treat your staff members when they’re not operating at their best.
3. Communicate openly and transparently
This is a big one: share information. Keep the team updated on what’s going on, the organisational vision, strategy and how things are tracking; don’t withhold resources from your team or make decisions in secret. Knowledge is power(ful)! Clearly communicate your expectations of the employee, how they’re delivering in their role and what they need to work—it is a kindness to be clear in this way. Encourage feedback, and the asking of questions. Transparency encourages open communication and trust. Lastly, resolve conflict – it’s inevitable, but deal with it early. Don’t think you can sweep things under the rug, as issues that aren’t dealt with inevitably resurface.
4. Create an environment of psychological safety
Encourage and foster collaboration and teamwork by ensuring you’re rewarding the right type of behaviours. Can your team share their wins and their losses/learnings? Role model this by being vulnerable, admitting to your own mistakes and taking accountability. Openly share ideas confidently, knowing that others in the team have their back, trust and value their knowledge and experience. Support your team when they make mistakes. A leader earns their stripes in the challenging times, not when everything is going well. This develops trust amongst the team.
5. Do what you say you’ll do
Otherwise known as follow-through; your actions must reflect your words! Your team needs to know that they can rely on you to do what you’ll say you’ll do. Provide consistency, dependability, and be willing to roll up your sleeves to help get the job done. You also need to walk the talk in terms of your expectations regarding behaviour and values from your team. They should be clear on what good looks like, and what values and behaviours are acceptable within your team.
6. Know when to delegate, and how to do this successfully
There’s an art to delegation and doing this in a way that empowers and uplifts staff whilst providing sufficient guidance to ensure they meet the key objectives of the work and are set-up to succeed. Te Rina recently wrote a blog on this which is well worth a read. To recap, the key points include: a) give the broader context of the work, b) provide clear guidance on what good looks like, c) set them up to succeed, d) and mostly importantly, release the reins.
7. Protect your team
There are times when you need to insulate your team. At the end of the day, the buck stops with you. This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold your team to account, or provide constructive criticism, but sometimes, the challenge of being a leader is that the wins must be shared, and the losses need to be owned.
8. And lastly, be their hype-person!
Your team need to believe that you think they are awesome! Having a people leader that sings their praises (when deserved) and gives credit for their part in delivering a successful project will boost their confidence. Recognise the contributions that all team members make – which may show up in different ways. What’s their super-power? Are they the super star performer, or the glue that holds the team together? Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and achievements of your team, providing regular recognition to ensure your team members feel valued and appreciated.
Trust is something that takes time to build but is easily damaged and can be hard to rebuild. Keep the strategies above in mind to foster an environment of trust, create a strong team culture.
Let me know what you think about my framework for building trust with your people in the workplace—is this practical? Are you alreadying doing all of these things?
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and of course as always if you need help with a people-question or issue, give us a call on + 64 9 300 7224