As a team leader, one of the most important and valuable things you can do is earn the trust of your team. If your team trusts you, they’ll feel comfortable with the decisions you make and it will create a more effective working environment. Furthermore, it encourages the team to come to you if they’re having problems either with the work or with another co-worker, which makes it easier to resolve conflict and prevent small problems from weighing down productivity.
Earning the trust of a team isn’t always a simple or straightforward process, but it’s always worth doing. There are several ways that you as a leader can go about this:
- Establish credibility. Credibility and authority are two different things, and inefficient leaders often forget this and think they are the same. From the perspective of the team, authority is being in charge while credibility is deserving to be there. Of course, prior experience and credentials are important, but the way you act and direct your team is even more important. Being available, following up on what people ask of you, keeping your word and getting things done are all things that show you are serious, responsible and credible.
- Be diplomatic. If a team member senses a bias from you, they’re potentially going to mistrust you. They could withdraw and hesitate when it comes to bringing up issues or concerns in case you don’t take their side. Being neutral and diplomatic is essential to ensure you’re seen as a trustworthy figure.
- Build rapport. Any kind of trust requires a strong bond. You don’t need to be best friends with your team mates, you just need to show that you care about their wellbeing, success and happiness beyond the job description. Get to know them and their families, and keep track of who they’re friends with in the workplace. Without being prying or overly familiar, this will bring you closer to your workers.
- Communicate. Be sure to keep your team well informed of happenings in the workplace. Regular updates on targets and future plans will help people feel more engaged. Work place studies have consistently shown that being part of a successful team provides more satisfaction than remuneration, so be sure to focus on the successes of the team.
To work effectively as a team, trust is a critical component. Having trust means you can do your job more effectively, which means the team can do theirs too.