If you want to be productive as a leader, it’s of the utmost importance that your team feels that they can trust you. Trust is the foundation upon which you build everything else. But what if things change outside of your control and that hurts that trust? What if a circumstance changes and, without meaning to, you betray the trust of your team? Or perhaps you’re new to this leadership role and need to begin to build trust.
Whatever the case may be, here are a few tips on how to build trust on your team:
People can trust people of integrity. Are you a person of integrity? Are you talking badly about others when they’re not in the room? Or are you consistent in your behavior and messaging? Speak kindly and honestly about all people and situations. Act consistently and take steps to manage your mood if necessary. If you’re up one minute and down the next, people don’t know what to expect from you and they will have trouble trusting you.
Address Trust Issues
If trust has been damaged for any reason or if you’re new to the team, you need to start clarifying things for everyone. Talk to team members individually and as a group and make sure your messaging is consistent. Talk about what has happened, admit to mistakes, establish a new line of thinking, and realize that it may take some time for those who follow you to see feel secure, but if you do these things, they will begin to trust you in time.
No matter what’s going on, you need for your team members to be able to talk to you and to ask you questions openly. They need to feel that there won’t be repercussions for asking those questions or discussing those things with you. Make sure your team knows that your door is always open and that you will be honest and candid with them.
Own Mistakes and Problems
If you’ve made a mistake or your organization has done something that hurts how your team perceives you, it’s your job as a leader to own that. Instead of shifting the blame somewhere else, take responsibility for it (within reason).
Really Get to Know Your Team
When people feel like you like them and actually know them, they’re far more likely to trust you than if you were to only discuss business issues with them on a need-to-know basis. Take time to go to lunch with teammates, ask about their kids, etc. Find appropriate ways to get to know about their personal lives and show an interest in the things they care about most. This, more than anything else, will help build trust as they learn to feel safe and supported around you.