At work as in love, trust is a fundamental pillar of a sane, meaningful and sustainable relationship. Within a team, it creates a calm environment, fosters cohesion, increases motivation, and ultimately contributes to better results. But how is it fostered? What are the correct attitudes for managers to develop? Here are 10 tips for building trust within your team.
Authenticity is essential to build a trusting relationship. Own up to who you are and what you think. Don’t set out to make others happy at any cost or to prove your legitimacy. Be true to who you are and respect your own style and values. If you’re playing a role, you may win others over, but you also run the risk of being liked—or criticized—for being someone you are not. Your entire team is totally in love with the visual that’s been chosen for your next ad campaign, but you’re not? Don’t fake it. Express your thoughts and back them up. Taking a point of view that goes against general opinion shows that you believe in yourself and in what you say: this is the way you define a trusting relationship.
Accept others for who they are
On your team, each person has followed a unique path, has their own skill set, and their own qualities, both good and bad. Don’t judge anyone. Get to know your colleagues and figure out their different personalities. Put yourself in their shoes to better understand their points of view and their reactions. This will allow you to adapt your behavior and your management accordingly. Your ability to listen attentively to team members and use your better judgement will increase their level of trust, as well as show your sense of fairness towards everyone.
Get your team together regularly
Trust is built from dialogue. Whenever there is a collective exchange of ideas, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, it’s a chance to reaffirm objectives and take stock of completed and upcoming tasks, showing that you know which direction you’re heading and that you’re committed to the team’s success. Don’t neglect individual meetings, which demonstrate that you listen to employees, and that you’re available and involved in their daily work life as well as their career development.
Say what you think, but make sure you can back everything up. Be factual when you speak. Opt for transparency without giving away confidential information. By communicating clearly about what everyone needs to do, and for whom and why, you give meaning to the team’s work and increase their motivation to follow your instructions. Be as accurate and detailed as possible to avoid any doubt or misunderstanding. Whatever you do, never lie. If the truth comes out, earning everyone’s trust again will require a lot of time and energy.
Look them in the eyes
As the proverb goes,“The eyes are the mirror of the soul.” In meetings or one-on-one, looking your audience or the person you’re speaking to in the eyes gives the impression that you’re sincere. Don’t go overboard, though. Eye contact that’s too intense or lasts too long can create discomfort and give the impression that you’re looking to dominate. According to a study presented by psychologist Alan Johnston in May 2015 and conducted with 400 participants at University College London, the ideal duration is 3.2 seconds. Any longer than that and you might make others feel uncomfortable. While you shouldn’t time eye contact, you should definitely be aware of it.
Express interest in your colleagues, but make sure you go about it sincerely and you listen properly to their answers. “How did your meeting with the client go?”; “What’s your plan for dealing with the problem with the supplier?”; “Do you need help?” This kind of questioning demonstrates your interest in their work and their well-being, as well as your ability to assist them. Your team members can count on you if they are having trouble. You might even consider asking them more personal and empathetic questions, especially after they’ve returned from vacation or an extended absence.
Adapt your vocabulary
Be clear in the way you speak (and write, of course). Use vocabulary suited to the colleague you’re speaking with. If the other person is not a technician but you are, don’t bombard them with jargon. Speak clearly and simply to build trust and support.
As a manager, you can’t take care of everything all by yourself. Keep in mind that delegating not only lets you maintain focus on the core of your activity, but it also validates your colleagues by reinforcing their involvement and improving their confidence. Delegate projects on a regular basis to your colleagues and give them enough autonomy to do them well, all the while being available should they need your help. This establishes proof of your trust in them—and you’ll get their trust back in return.
Keep your word
Whatever your promise, keep it! And in general, don’t promise something if you can’t follow through. You could lose all credibility from the team or come off as someone who just talks a good game. Before announcing any extra budget allocations for your team, make sure they have been approved by the powers that be!
In any relationship, moments of doubt can appear unexpectedly, most notably if there are difficulties within the team or the company (strategy changes, budget cuts, interpersonal conflict and so on). Don’t let the situation get out of hand. If it affects your team, speak about it with your colleagues, either privately or as a group. Invite them to ask questions and answer with as much transparency as you deem possible. This will show that you listen to them, serve to remove any doubts, and maintain dialogue as well as trust.
Achieving and cultivating a relationship of trust requires time, consistency, authenticity and closeness. Trust cannot be demanded; it has to be earned slowly, just as it can be lost in an instant. Acting in a sincere way, leading by example in every situation, putting yourself in others’ shoes—these all require daily commitment. It’s a demanding state of mind, but the results pay dividends, for both quality of life as well as productivity.
Translated by Kalin Linsberg
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