We have all seen recent debates about various working models: hybrid, work-from-home, work-from-anywhere, 4-day-work-week, results-only-work-environment (ROWE) and probably many more we can’t possibly list all here.
For the proponents of more progressive policies such as the ROWE model, many employees argue that such procedures allow them to manage their work-life balance better and spend quality time with their loved ones. Some employees with caregiving responsibilities at home can now do their work and equally provide the care required at home.
On the other hand, the sceptics may need clarification on whether actual work is getting done. They argue that not everyone is born equal, with some people simply not having the self-discipline and cannot be “left alone to manage themselves” and will be “scrolling social media all day”.
Have you ever heard of those voices before?
From working with various leaders in helping them build thriving cultures in their organisations, we see how different leaders approach the differing types of working policy very differently, and some struggle to keep up with more progressive policies that affect their talent strategies in this very competitive talent market.
When analysing these organisations and leaders, we find that the critical component missing from the discussion, and leaders too afraid to admit, is that they don’t trust their employees or they don’t trust their employees enough – it is as simple as that.
Trust is a core pillar in a team or organisational setting. As many leaders have learned over the years, without trust, there are limitations in what you can achieve and how far you can go as a team.
When there is trust, you fully believe in your employee’s ability to deliver a task and acknowledge that you may not be the best person to provide said task; that is why you hire that employee in the first place.
When trust is given wholeheartedly, a sense of empowerment follows. This trust translates to commitment because when you trust someone to deliver a task and do not micromanage, they feel more empowered and committed to doing their best work. This, in turn, makes the leader and team far more effective and dedicated. Trust will help you as a leader and your team achieve great heights.
While most managers are desperate to build trust within a team quickly, there are things managers do, consciously or unconsciously, that will hinder trust in many ways, which can be detrimental to the output. Managers hinder trust through
Micromanagement shakes confidence and belief in one’s ability to complete a task to the best of their capabilities. Furthermore, ignoring input, tolerating unprofessional behaviour and behaving counterproductively as a leader lends to a toxic work environment. This behaviour significantly hampers trust and, in turn, team effectiveness.
Similarly, turning a blind eye to these hindering actions by others will also break trust.
Not offering support to your employees when necessary and not stepping in to help them if you see them struggling are also ways in which trust may be broken.
So what can leaders do to ensure trust within a team is an integral part of an organisation’s DNA? Let’s explore.
Giving away control can be challenging for a leader who likes to own the outcome of a task or project. However, this strategy is critical when it comes to building trust.
For instance, in the case of remote working, acknowledging that employees do not need to be seen at their desks from 9-5 to know that they are working helps them know that their leaders have complete faith in them to get the task done to the expected outcome.
Remote working also comes with challenges. Leaders would realise and acknowledge that sometimes their employees need to focus or connect better. Rather than chastise or reprimand them, leaders can coach and co-create strategies to counter this. Encouraging them to take regular breaks and care for their well-being in between tasks is a good idea.
Sharing resources and learning to delegate your “to-do list” is also an essential aspect of relinquishing control. It shows your employees that you have complete trust in them while helping them feel empowered and valued, motivating them to give their best.
Though this may be a time-consuming exercise, it is a valuable one.
By taking the time to hear everyone’s input and feedback, you show your team that you respect and value each of them and that they are members of an inclusive environment. This is important for team morale, confidence, and productivity.
It is crucial, though, that you do not just pay lip service. If there is something genuine of use or value, you must follow through and act upon it. Nothing crumbles trust faster than seeing you paying lip service on ideas your employees have spent time thinking about.
Never underestimate the ability to communicate openly. It demonstrates that leaders are approachable and willing to listen.
Listening to suggestions with an open mind, respect, empathy, and humility will help you and your team foster a healthy relationship where trust flows naturally.
Admitting that you don’t know something and being vulnerable enough to communicate this openly is essential – such clarity and transparency will help get the tasks done efficiently.
Be open about your experiences while asking your employee to share theirs. This is another effective way to build trust between employees and you, the leader, and the team. Be candid and honest, and the others will feel comfortable enough to do the same.
Leaders ask us a lot: How do I build trust within a team?
If you want to be trusted as a leader, the answer is simple: trust your team first, and trust you shall receive.
Want to learn how to build trust with your team and lead more effectively? Join us at the upcoming SMILE Leadership Masterclass happening from 17 – 19 Mar 2023. Register before 15 Feb to enjoy a 10% Early Bird discount. Download the brochure or register here.