Trust is a currency every organization needs to have. Trust has a spillover effect on your business’s bottom line. For example, investors invest in companies they trust. Companies hire applicants they can trust; countries can do business with each other when there is mutual trust; people marry individuals they trust; friendships are built on mutual trust; students learn from teachers they trust; and team members work at their maximum capacity with people they trust. Therefore, it is safe to say that trust is a currency worth having in every human endeavor.
Once trust is lost, a fundamental value of humanity is lost. For individuals who are practicing leadership or who want to improve their relationships, there are five simple but effective suggestions for earning team members’ trust. They are being approachable, being honest, asking for team members’ opinions, following up, and showing appreciation. These suggestions are especially useful for leaders who are new to an organization and getting to know team members.
People can intuitively know within seconds whether someone is approachable or not because our nonverbal cues communicate our intentions. It is sometimes called micro-expressions. Approachability is linked to trustworthiness. Decision-makers who are not people-persons find it difficult to connect with their workforce. Such a work environment saps energy and reduces morale. First, be conscious of your body posture, including facial expressions, because your body posture introduces your presence before you even say a word. One way to find out how you come across to people is to observe your posture in a private space. If you have to practice in front of a mirror, do it before approaching your team members because first impressions matter immensely.
Second, when you speak, don’t try to score points by saying too much in an effort to show off your leadership and managerial skills. A simple gesture of introducing yourself and letting them know that you’re the new person in their department can help. Allowing the team members to introduce themselves can serve as an icebreaker. Letting them know that you’re walking around to get to know other team members would be helpful information as well. During your introduction to your subordinates, if they decide to engage with you beyond introductions, be candid with them in your responses.
Being open and curious when engaging in conversations increases the potential for connectedness. People can trust you more quickly if they feel you are honest. Understandably, being open and curious may not be easy when you first meet people, but the earlier you sit on the discomfort and press beyond the uncertainties, the sooner a relationship starts to build.
On the other hand, the longer you wait to introduce yourself to your subordinates, the more difficult it becomes to establish a working relationship, and the more doubts they will start to have about you. Addressing this discomfort from a position of vulnerability tests your character because being vulnerable as a decision-maker in a safe environment is a measure of strength (and not weakness). And, sometimes, the work environment is the right place to exercise such vulnerability. In addition, a key part of honesty is to admit when you don’t know something and that you need input from others.
Asking for Colleagues’ or Subordinates’ Opinions
Nobody has all the answers to life’s questions, whether at work, in relationships, or in society at large. So, it is not a good idea to claim that you know everything just because of your position in an organization. For one, it creates distrust and discourages people from working with you, and, second, it is not healthy for business and the well-being of everyone in your sphere of influence. That is why asking questions is a sign of humility and availability to learn. On the contrary, people who don’t ask questions may come off as arrogant and narcissistic. Instead, the ability to ask questions encourages collaboration and teamwork because everybody is now looking at the same data or challenge.
After collecting input from everyone else, examine each of the answers and come to a conclusion. It would be wise to share your decision with those who may be directly affected. This could come in terms of discussing why you think your selected option is favorable and still being open for more questions regarding your decision.
Never leave your team hanging, because doing so raises speculations and a sense of unappreciation. This approach is critical because it keeps everyone informed and in the loop. In case a plan does not flourish as expected, not just the head of the department will take the heat; the entire department will be willing to revisit the plan and strategize.
Also, following up with the team increases morale and a sense of belonging. People are more likely to work together if they understand the importance of achieving the goal. Reviewing relevant information with team members increases trust in one another and the desire to do more with the team.
Making it a point to appreciate your team members is an essential part of building trust in a team. When appreciation is expressed, people tend to long for the next thing to do in order to be appreciated. Showing appreciation can reinforce wanted behaviors. People tend to repeat what is rewarding and avoid anything that jeopardizes not receiving a reward. Showing appreciation can come in varied ways, such as appreciating a team member in words, by presenting gifts to the group or individuals, offering days off from work, or asking team members what appreciation gestures they would like to see. Appreciation from a decision-maker can be memorable and invigorating.
Another unique way of showing appreciation is by listening. The ability to listen to team members when they share a concern and something is done to solve the concern is an indirect way of showing appreciation. A lack of appreciation can be detrimental over time because it can send a signal to team members of not being worthy in the eyes of the leadership team or a lack of caring from the upper management. It is critical to make it a habit to appreciate team members regularly until it becomes the culture. Overall, people just want to be trusted and appreciated.
Trust is delicate and needs to be guarded jealously. It is an important currency in humanity. An environment that lacks trust is ripe for disaster, be it in business, relationships, or a social setting. Trust demands honesty. A dishonest decision-maker will likely lose valuable team members as a result of a lack of trust in the system. Encouraging an environment where questions are asked and answered promotes trustworthiness and maintains a flow of information. Trust in a team permits all associates on that team to support the decision-maker of the team because they experience having a voice and contributing to the outcome. Capping off these efforts to build trust with team members, remember that (like love) showing appreciation “covers a multitude of sins.”