Managing a team is hard work. It’s even harder if your team doesn’t trust you.
When you’ve earned your team’s trust, they can achieve greater success together and individually. They’ll work more collaboratively and accomplish tasks with greater efficiency. When they know they can put their trust in you, your team will be more likely to support your decisions and bring their full enthusiasm to their work.
Without trust, the group of people you manage won’t be much of a team. Productivity will go down and defensiveness will go up. They’ll be at odds with you and possibly with each other. You’ll have higher turnover as people leave your team in search of a trustworthy leader. During tough times, those who don’t trust you may even turn against you.
Earning and keeping your team’s trust doesn’t have to take a lot of time. What it takes is effort and your consistent dedication to your team. Here are five easy ways you can build your team’s trust.
1. Learn everyone’s name
I don’t have a complicated first name. (My last name? That’s another matter.) If someone calls me “Laura” instead of Lauren, I know they don’t value me, my advice, or my work. When someone fumbles my name, I take notice and my trust of the person decreases.
To help remember people’s names, repeat the name right after you hear it. Come up with an association between something you notice about a person and their name. If you still can’t keep the names straight, make—or ask HR to make—a cheat sheet of people’s faces and names, and then study up. Chances are, there are other people in your office that could use that cheat sheet, too.
2. Set and stick to a standard response time
Your team relies on you to provide answers, clarity, advice, and decisions. By not responding to your team’s questions and requests, you’re implying that their needs don’t matter to you and that what they’re working on isn’t important. They’ll learn that they can’t trust you to be there for them.
Set a standard response time for getting back to your team with the information they need. Block regular time on your calendar to respond to your team so you can stick to your promise. Whether that’s every day or a few times a week depends on what will help your team maintain momentum. If you’ll be less responsive because of travel or a big deadline, let your team know in advance that your response time will change.
3. Don’t steal their thunder
There are a lot of ways to earn the title “World’s Least Trusted Boss.” Taking credit for people ideas and successes is one of the most offensive things you can do.
If you realize you’re guilty of taking credit for an employee’s work, make amends. Apologize to the person you wronged, let them know that you value them and their work, and update your team on who really deserves the credit. If you have a mentor, boss, or coworker who supports your professional growth, share with them that you’re making an effort to stop your thunder-stealing behavior. Encourage them to talk to you privately if they see you behave that way again.
4. Learn to manage yourself
In your meetings, your team works together establish a project plan, come up with a to-do list, and assign owners. A week later you’re the one who neglected to do the tasks you own. Maybe you forgot, maybe you were busy. Whatever your excuse, your team’s progress is stalled and everyone’s waiting on you. Sound familiar?
You need to be a model of responsibility and reliability if you want your team to trust you, and if you want your team to be responsible and reliable. Brush up on time management techniques that can help you stop procrastinating, get organized, and do what you need to do. If your team can help by managing up to you, work together establish this new dynamic and your shared expectations.
5. Stop playing favorites
It’s inevitable—you’ll have a better working relationship with some people more than others. You might have similar communication styles, bonded over a shared experience or interest, or become friends outside the office.
This leads to subtle or blatant workplace favoritism, which can demoralize other employees and erode your team’s trust. No one is above playing favorites, so it’s time to overcome your biases. Be on the lookout for the ways you show favoritism. Don’t wait for employee performance reviews or Public Service Recognition Week. Make a regular effort to recognize each person for the skills, abilities, and contributions they bring to the team.
Do you have a tip for earning your team’s trust? Share it in the comments.