Building Trust

shaking hands, business

Recently I’ve been doing some volunteer coaching through Catchafire and it is wonderful to support new managers within the non-profit space.  

One of the main topics I end up discussing with new managers is trust. 

As a manager, your job is to build trust.  Build trust between you and your team and build trust between you and your supervisor.  More trust means less micromanaging.  Trust will help your team feel empowered, and you will feel confident in the goals you need to achieve together.  

One way to increase trust is to really listen to your team. “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply,” Stephen Covey  

This means when you ask your employees how their week, project, day is going, you listen to what they say.  You don’t ask them nicely so you can turnaround and tell them what you need them to do instead.  You ask because you really care and want to know if there are challenges you can help them overcome.  You ask follow up questions.  You see where they may be feeling stuck and then you help them.  All of this without thinking about your own agenda.  You ask them a question and listen to their response.  

If you don’t have time, don’t ask the question.  Asking and not listening is worse than not asking at all.  If you are meeting because you need to address a concern you have, start there.  “I have a concern I need us to talk about.” or  “This is going to be a hard meeting and I am here to support you as we find a resolution.”

If you have a meeting that is focused on your concern, make sure to have another one soon where you can address their concerns.  Don’t make every meeting about you.  

Another way to build trust is to be transparent.  Share what you can, when you can and be clear when you can’t. Let the team know they are part of a bigger picture and help them understand where their work falls within the greater organization.  When possible, ask for feedback on goals and department objectives yet don’t ask for feedback when a decision has already been made.  

“I’m still looking for the right solution and welcome any ideas or feedback you have.”  Vs “I think we have a solution in place that will be announced soon.  If you have any additional feedback I should consider, let me know.”

These two sentences are similar but the difference is crucial.  One lets your team know that you are still exploring options and the other lets them know you are settled on a direction and will share more soon.  For your team, this is an important distinction.   

Finally, to build trust, take the time to get to know your team, their strengths, challenges, areas of interest, and career goals.  This may be through teambuilding exercises or reserving a few minutes during a meeting for a general check in.  Either way, letting your staff know you care about more than just their performance builds trust.

For more on building trust, check out the framework put forth by Brene Brown in Dare to Lead. Her website and books have wonderful information for leaders.

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