It is easy for a leader to wreck trust on their team. Too easy. If you as a leader are seeing a trust deficit within your team, ask yourself if you have contributed to the situation in one or more of the following seven ways:
1. You put the kibosh on communication.
For trust to flourish on your team, your people have to be “in the know.” And that means you need to be communicating – consistently and clearly – about your vision and core values, your goals and objectives, your obstacles and opportunities, etc. It also means you need to have open and honest dialogue with your team members about all these things and whatever else is on their minds. Put simply, if you’re not talking together, trust has no ground in which to grow.
2. You don’t explain your decisions.
As a leader, the buck stops with you. But that does not mean you should act like a dictator and simply hand down decisions from on high. If you do, those decisions will likely appear arbitrary and unjustified in the eyes of your team because they have no idea what you are thinking or why. You may have good data or justifications for your decision – but your team doesn’t know it. And, to return to point #1, people don’t trust when they feel they are in the dark.
3. You don’t leverage the diversity of your team.
Diversity and inclusion are current buzzwords with good reason: drawing upon the experiences, expertise, ideas, and perspectives of the people on your team will always deliver a fantastic ROI for your business. What you may not have realized, however, is that practicing diversity and inclusion is a great trust builder because it honors the individual. If you lack trust on your team, ask yourself, “Have I included my team in making decisions, brainstorming ideas, pursuing innovation, and the like?”
4. Your behavior is unpredictable and uneven.
One minute, you’re showering your team members with praise. The next moment, you’re flying off the handle over minor matters. On Monday, you welcome input on a project, while on Friday you shut down conversation during a meeting. Today, you tout an “open door policy” and tomorrow you don’t even say “hello” at the water cooler. Let’s be clear: if your team members have no idea “which boss” they will encounter at work today, they will not trust you on any day.
5. You sweep conflict under the carpet.
Conflicts on your team are inevitable. Dealing with those conflicts – unfortunately – is optional. If you as the leader “opt out” of dealing with conflict, you contribute to a situation that gradually erodes trust across the board since trust cannot flourish in the midst of unresolved tension.
6. You fail to give regular feedback.
This is a classic trust-killer: you don’t give feedback all year long – or, even worse, you make generic, feel-good comments – then clobber your team member(s) at annual review time with a litany of issues and concerns you weren’t honest enough to address when they actually arose. There is no faster way to destroy trust.
7. You preach core values but don’t practice them.
John C. Maxwell famously said, “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” The corollary is that if you blather on about the importance of core values and then behave in the exact opposite manner, you are going to completely erode trust on your team. You aren’t fooling anyone: people know.
If you recognize yourself in one or more of the above points, don’t despair. It is possible to restore and rebuild trust with your team. We’ll tackle that in our next blog, so stay tuned! In the meantime, follow the hyperlinks above for more information and feel free to contact us for help developing trust on your team.