When you’re a new team leader, it can be challenging to earn the trust of your team. This is because you have no history and people don’t know if they can rely on you. However, if you begin the relationship correctly, you can build trust steadily. Even if you’ve stumbled out of the blocks, you can use the basics of trust-building to regain your credibility and work towards becoming a trustworthy manager.
Regardless of why you want to build trust, it’s essential that you take on the challenge. Once you develop a sense of trust, you have the foundation on which you can build a strong team. Without trust, people will likely not accept your leadership, let alone see you as a trustworthy leader. They’ll also spend more time covering their backs that it’ll be difficult to get anything done.
If your team doesn’t trust you, no amount of team building or recognition will motivate people to work together. Furthermore, without trust, there is no “we,” and with no “we” there is no team.
To create a well-oiled team, you have to prove that you’re a trustworthy manager. Your team must see you as a person and as a leader. From there, your team will know that you won’t lead them astray. This, in turn, will result in your team working hard to get the job done.
Here are a few tips on how you can become a trustworthy leader.
Open Up with Self-Disclosure
People naturally trust other people who know and understand. As a team leader, you cannot afford to be mysterious.
When you first start with a team, make sure that you share your background with your colleagues. Better yet, share who you really are…what makes you tick…what makes you a trustworthy leader. You can do this by creating a mini-bio that shows something more about you than just your work persona. This is a huge step towards becoming a trustworthy manager.
The better people get to know one another, the easier it is to trust one another. People are naturally curious. If you don’t give them information, they’ll fill in the blanks on their own. The judgments that people make on their own can quickly become “facts” to them.
You can get ahead of false assumptions by encouraging people to share information about themselves. As a trustworthy leader, you can take the lead by sharing your background first!
Make sure you provide ample opportunities for your team to socialize and get to know one another. While your primary purpose is to work, your work will be far more effective if you make time for fun too.
Tip: As your team and organization grow, consider circulating a short bio of the newcomers. Include facts and information that will help veteran team members relate to them better. Make sure that you have the bio approved by the incoming worker before sharing it with the rest of the team!
Trustworthy Managers Do What They Say and Say What They Do
Make sure you only make promises that you can keep. You can quickly lose trust and leadership capital by not delivering on your promises. When you fail to deliver on promises, you cause disappointment and frustration among the ranks, which, in turn, detracts from your credibility as a trustworthy leader.
When you’re unsure if you can deliver, say so and make it painfully clear. Honesty is far more important than your prowess. Your team would much rather follow the person whom they can trust versus a person who boasts about what they can do.
When you make a commitment, own it and see it through. This might mean saying “no” on occasion. This is totally acceptable. It’s better than underdelivering on a promise. make sure that you know your limitations before committing to anything.
Tip: When you first join a team, a great way to build trust is to capture a quick win. Make sure that your accomplishment is relevant and that you share credit where credit is due. However, make sure you don’t totally bomb this first, high-profile project.
Clear communication is a core component of this concept of doing what you say. When you keep your team in the loop, you send a clear message that you trust them. Trust flows in both directions, and when you give trust, you typically get it in return.
Trustworthy Managers are Role Models
When it comes to trust, people respond to those who inspire them. As humans, we trust people who frequently demonstrate high-quality behaviors. Some of these high-quality behaviors that define trustworthy managers include, but are not limited to:
- Honesty: only speak the truth and practice transparency.
- Integrity: establish a solid moral code and always abide by it.
- Respect: never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.
- Loyalty: stand behind your team and your decisions.
- Fairness: apply similar standards, measures, and expectations to all members of your team.
- Authenticity: be yourself. You’ll eventually get caught if you try to “fake it.” In the meantime, there will always be something “not quite right” about you. Earning trust from others starts with a firm belief in who you are as a person.
Tip: If you’re a rookie manager or team leader, make sure you model respectful behavior from the start. Avoid unflattering assumptions or judgments about your predecessor. Furthermore, don’t come in gun-ho and ready to change everything. What worked for your last team or organization may not work here. Your new team and its previous leader worked hard to establish their systems – respect their work, and make sure that you work with your new team, not against it. This will ensure that you start things off on the right foot.
Hold Yourself Accountable No Matter What
Take ownership of all your actions and decisions. This is easy when things are going well. However, it can be difficult when things go wrong – don’t look to pass the blame or find a scapegoat. A trustworthy leader always steps up and accepts responsibility.
It’s a wise idea to encourage this level of accountability in every member of your team. Make sure that everyone is clear about what’s expected of them by agreeing to a team charter, setting up and delivering regular performance reviews, and giving feedback on a regular basis. When all members of a team understand that they can’t hide behind the team, you’ll start to get trustworthy behavior from everyone.
Tip: Remember to trust your team. Avoid micromanaging and over-controlling tendencies. When you team knows that you trust them, they’re more likely to trust you.
Trustworthy Managers are Present
In order for your team to trust you, they need to know that you’re there for them.
- Listen to your people, and really hear what they’re saying. If you don’t understand a problem or situation, keep asking questions until you totally grasp it.
- Step out from behind emails and memos. Meet with individual members of your team regularly. Talk to them in person in a one-on-one setting on a weekly basis. Use Management by Walking Around to keep in touch on a less formal basis.
- Give lots of praise and encouragement. Make sure that your team knows how much you appreciate what they do every day.
- Make sure your body language ensures that you don’t imply things that you don’t mean.
Tip: Find out what motivates members of your team. Learn what they think is working and what needs fixing. When your people feel that you genuinely care, they will trust that you have their best intentions in mind.
Give Credit When Credit is Due
To build trust, focus on building your people’s profile, not your own. When your team enjoys a win, let them share in the credit and glory. Take a back seat and give your people their time to shine.
Remember that a great leader is a humble leader. If you’re in the role for the right reasons, then knowing that you did a great job and allowing your team to bask in the glory is all the reward that you need.
Trustworthy Leaders Establish
When you start with a new team, individual members of the team will know much more about their jobs, the organization, and the current situations, than you.
Have the humility to learn what people do. More importantly, learn how they do it. Discover from your team what works and what doesn’t. Fix problems for people when you can. Learn as much as you possibly can and as quickly as you can. If you do, you’ll quickly establish credibility and respect.
Gaining your team’s trust starts and ends with you – the (soon to be) trustworthy leader. YOu have to behave in a trustworthy way right from the start. Furthermore, you have to do so in all of your dealings with your team. Selflessness and adopting a true team mentality are at the core of building team trust, along with sharing who you are, making it clear what you stand for – and then “walking the talk” on a daily basis.
A trusted leader is one who’s confident in their abilities and doesn’t require praise from others. When you’re comfortable with yourself, it’s easy to step back and let your team shine. This is the behavior that signals that trust is alive and well throughout your team.