Being a leader in any setting can be challenging but within professional settings, you really are juggling a lot at one time. Finding a balance between your deliverables and meeting the expectations of your superiors while simultaneously building relationships and collaborating with your subordinates is no easy task. However, in spite of the layers, it is certainly achievable. Some of the most remarkable leaders in history know that there are elements of this delicate relationship that leave no room for error, trust being one of them.
Just as with any relationship, building trust in the workplace must be done over time, and it is also essential that you leave no question in the minds of those who look up to you that they can place their trust in you. Unfortunately, the fact that it takes almost no time for trust to be broken is also true. Knowing that there will be an ebb and flow, and certainly, that trust is a two-way street is the best perspective for a successful leader to adopt. So where should you start? Below are a few key considerations that you as a leader can look to when determining how you will create your own style of leadership that generates, fosters, and builds mutual trust in today’s modern workplace.
Accountability Without Micro-Management
It is no doubt a function of your job to make sure that those that you monitor are doing their jobs and tackling their tasks in an efficient and effective way. However, nobody likes to be babysat by their boss. Software programs are a great way to be able to track productivity without having to formally check in with your team. Giving that autonomy is a show of trust and lets your team know that yes, you have expectations, but you are not going to spend every workday checking each and every one of their steps regarding projects and tasks.
Leaders that have remote teams are masters of this balance. As are those who work within industries that have many moving parts, such as logistics. When you are in charge of a fleet, it can be hectic to have to track and analyze data for vehicles that are always on the go. It is not the same as having to monitor the rate of email responses from an administrative team member, for example.
Creating visibility within fleet operations means that leaders can track progress in real-time and that drivers know their superiors have their backs in terms of preventing false claims or any questions regarding habits or locations. You could be wasting valuable money and time running a fleet operation that does not include a platform offering such benefits. Inefficiencies are costly for any business and that money can unknowingly be the reason that things like raises and bonuses cannot happen. By using this new information you’ll be able to find out exactly where those inefficiencies are, correct them, then turn that money over into celebrating the wins of your team. Nothing shows trust and faith in an employee’s performance like a raise or a bonus.
You have to lay all your cards out on the table. In modern workplaces employees basically demand the type of access to senior leadership that was once thought to be reserved for only the most formal necessities. This means great strides in terms of trust-building so if you are not already you need to become a transparent leader and understand exactly how that will look in terms of daily operations and communications. In the early 2000s, this looked something like, top CEO’s taking the door to their office off the hinges and physically showing their team members that their door is always open.
Fast forward to some of the most innovative remote work cultures in today’s world, and you’ll notice that employees can access the calendars of even the most upper-level executives. How this works to build trust, is it does a lot of the talking for you. When those around you can see your activity and be included in important conversations, they feel that they belong more, and less like they are employee #145 who gets a paycheck every two weeks. Keep in mind there are still ways to manage discretion without exclusion and furthermore including your employees in some of these important conversations opens the business up to a higher number and greater variation of ideas that previous generations of leaders missed out on.
The most important thing to remember is that trust goes both ways and also that it is not automatically given. When something has to be earned and proven you need to pay attention to it in a way that supports that fact. Your employees are going to want to know, and feel, that they can trust you not only as an employer but also as a fellow human being. Who you are, what you stand for, the way you speak to and about people, these behaviors and mindsets will all contribute to the level at which your trustworthiness is determined.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming that because you are in a leadership position, everyone trusts you, it doesn’t work that way. Create a narrative that lends itself to showing your team that you can not only talk the talk, but that you can also walk the walk. The old adage, actions speak louder than words most certainly applies when it comes to the topic of trust between leaders and their team members.