- April 18, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
A recent article, Eight Mistakes Leaders Make That Kill Employee Trust, briefly discussed different management shortcomings and problems that we may unknowingly have or use, which can ruin employees’ respect for us. I wanted to address each of these mistakes and help you learn how to avoid them.
Last week, I talked about how trust doesn’t just occur on its own, but that you have to be open and honest about the things that you do. I was thinking about that as I considered this week’s Leadership Mistake.
In the IndustryWeek.com article, the writeup said:
Because we all want people to trust us, we feel threatened and ashamed when there is evidence that they don’t. As a result, we avoid discussing the subject altogether. We certainly don’t explore what we can do to build trust. Setili says that lack of trust is not an indictment on your character but rather a simple fact. If we can learn to see the problem objectively, we can take steps to remedy it.
Going into a new situation whether it’s a customer, a vendor, or a company, you usually get a bit of a honeymoon period. For example, we like to say the U.S. President has 100 days to prove whether he can be the president.
It’s similar to what happens in business. You’ve got a limited amount of time to prove that you are trustworthy, and the onus is on you, the leader, to prove that. It’s not on the rest of the world to accept it.
If you can’t earn people’s trust, it’s not so much about your character as it is your actions. Trust is something you earn, not being trustworthy is a character flaw. You have to prove you can be trusted, but if you regularly lie or fail to follow through, that’s a bigger issue.
When you take on a new leadership role, or even if you want to rehab your old image, think through what you want to accomplish, and then set out to actually accomplish it with people. There will be those who learn to trust you and those who learn to just tolerate you. And there will be those who, no matter what you do, just aren’t going to like you. Don’t worry about them. Instead, focus on changing the minds of the middle group and increasing the trust and respect of the first group.
How I Build Trust In Others
You build trust piece by piece, bit by bit. It’s not done in one sweeping grand gesture. Just like my wife (an ordained minister who leads a church) often tells me, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. (Luke 16:10).”
(To be clear, she doesn’t actually say “(Luke 16:10)” to me. I put that in there for your benefit.)
So it goes with trust. If you build trust over small issues, you’ll build trust on larger issues too. But if you can’t be trusted on the small things, you won’t be trusted on the big things either.
Whenever I started a new role, I would always set the standard by being very clear and concise in my communications, and then I would have short-term follow ups. I would never let anything go more than two weeks without following up with the individual, whether it was something they had to do or something I did.
If I had committed to a task, I always made it a point to do it immediately. I never put it on the calendar for 30 days out. I initiated it immediately, so there was some immediate result, good, bad, or indifferent. On a short-term basis, I could report whether that thing could happen or if I got flattened like a steamroller.
We worked at keeping communications flowing, but not postponing. We focused on communicating and executing things. And by doing that consistently and continually, I was able to build trust with my staff at all levels.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: DieselHP (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)