I would go so far as to say that business runs on trust. That’s why many businesses and leaders find themselves in such a challenging scenario right now. Research shows that trust is sitting in many sectors as low as 50% That means less than half of all people that go to work trust their managers, and that we are seeing a very wary consumer with regards to their relationships and sense of connection with major brands. That’s a serious statistic. And a huge problem.
When trust is low, decision making within teams is slow, and because of that business becomes expensive. Speed in business is the same thing as efficiency. That’s why, teams and brands can only ever move at the speed of trust.
Now the upsides of high trust environments are pretty clear too. High trust teams outperform low trust teams by 3 to 1.
Make no mistake about it - if we’re serious about leveraging the talent that already exists within our teams and if we want to do great work - trust is vital, and it is the role of leaders to architect high trust environments.
So - here are some big ideas for how to build high trust team environments.
Be open, honest and real. So many leaders paste on a thick professional mask at the start of every day and wonder why no one seems to be able to trust them. Take off the mask and show people that you are a normal person, working hard and figuring stuff out along the way, just like them. If you don’t know the answer to something? Don’t make it up. Own up, find out, and follow up. Role model a growth mindset. If you screw up – don’t just hope people didn’t notice and try and sweep it under the table - put your hand up, fix it and move on. Your team will respect you for showing the process and at the same time, you’ll be creating an environment where they aren’t afraid to fail. If you have to make a tough decision, don’t make excuses or shy away from sharing the honest reason for your decision. I imagine that you are surrounded by some pretty talented people. I want to encourage you to honour that. Share your decisions - give your team the opportunity to learn so that one day they can step up to the plate themselves and lead. Transparency builds trust.
Treat people with respect. It’s crazy that we have to talk to leaders about this, but it’s important. It means no backstabbing and no gossip. Don’t try to make yourself look good by blaming other people or selling someone out for a cheap laugh. Nothing creates an air of distrust more than when a manager is seen to gossip or throw people under the bus - And if someone messes up don’t hang them out to dry. Create a strict no shaming policy. If you have to rely on fear and treating your team like naughty children, resentment will be rife and trust will never be a reality in your team.
Invest trust first. To GAIN the trust of someone else, you have to first GIVE trust. So go first, give them responsibilities and opportunities to run with projects and tasks that make sense for them and don’t look over their shoulder while they do. Autonomy is just business jargon for trust.
Follow through with any commitments you make. This is a really easy one for managers to trip themselves up with. It’s not that leaders have bad intentions. It’s just that life is full, and there is PLENTY to do. Sometimes you say you’ll do something only to see it slip down your priority list as the day and the week gets on. Before long, you are pretending that the commitment didn’t get made and hoping that no one notices. But they do. Their silence isn’t an indication that they’ve forgotten as much as it is a sign that they’ve just stopped expecting you to follow through and have given up on trusting you.
Finally, be consistent and reliable. Show up the same way each day and dump any volatility you have. Some teams can never trust their leader because they don’t know which version of them is going to show up on any given day!
Great management is built on a foundation of trust. Begin laying and constantly strengthening that foundation today.