Building a high performing team requires a number of ingredients but if you’re looking for that team to be able to sustain that drive and enthusiasm towards a common goal, you will need to ensure that trust is solid within your top team. Some years ago I had a conversation with a businessman who had retired, he had previously ran a very successful company that he started in the post war era and very quickly I found out some of the core aspects of what allowed him to succeed. A lot of his personal learnings were his reflections of what he would have perhaps done differently, having said that, Trust back then played a big role in him building a flourishing business. The old school way of doing business back then was built all around being authentic, a hand shake would be as strong as any 20 page contract is nowadays! Maybe I’m being a little romantic with the idea of being able to do business is this way in todays constantly moving environment but there is something very special with knowing you can trust someone to be able to keep their word.
The Heart of Trust
If you attempt to get to the heart of trust and what that key ingredient is that builds trust, you wouldn’t be too far off if you plumbed for being able to keep you word, or in other words, being authentic. Unfortunately there are so many examples of where trust has been eroded time and time again across all aspects of our lives in the last 20 years, that it has become acceptable and even the norm.
Gazumping is one of the biggest examples most of us will have either heard of or experienced in our lifetime, when house prices were escalating at such a pace and people choose a higher bid over a previously agreed sale with someone else, this was common place and eroded trust in the housing market. Looking through any newspaper around the world will expose a list of examples where trust is being knocked and the confidence you might have had in a leader is wiped clean because they’ve said one thing but done something completely different!
It’s no wonder that we’ve become conditioned to be cautious when dealing with another team member or someone new that might have their own agenda. Trust can sometimes takes years to build but can be blown apart within a heart beat, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something big that breaks the trust it can be as simple as someone not turning up on time. As leaders, we need to remember that we are being watched all of the time, our team are constantly looking for the small chinks / cracks in our behaviour where we might say one thing but then do something different!
3 Main aspects to Trust
1. Do people trust the strategic direction you and your team have taken?
2. Do people trust you personally?
3. Do your clients trust your organisation?
Keys to Building Trust
1. Being open & honest (Often it’s better to be up front and have the difficult conversation)
2. Deliver on your promises, that means keeping in mind the date that it is meant to be completed!
3. Communicate with great clarity and ensure that the team or person fully understands what is expected.
4. Listen with Empathy.
5. Being flexible, which may mean that you have to look at the bigger picture and the greater good of the team, instead of being focused just on your part of the business.
6. Show interest in the person or the project being discussed.
7. Be consistent, people will feel more trusting of you when act and behave in a consistent way. (Passive/ aggressive behaviour will not encourage people to be open with you).
8. Be aware of being over trusting, the goal is to be carefully trusting which will mean that you need to ensure you know the person’s capability and their motivation to be able to complete a task that you might assign to them.
9. Be present, sounds easy to do but so many leaders struggle with this one. Ensure that you see each conversation as an opportunity to leave a positive finger print. Being present means being fully aware of how you are acting and being in that moment whilst with that person and that you are not looking to end the interaction to rush off to something else.
10. Schedule regular Check – In’s with your team and each individual to allow for some “them time”, this will encourage a more open dialog and reinforce that everyone is still on track.
Remember that the small micro signals that someone like James Bond might pick up during a conversation will give someone away when they’re not telling the truth or speaking their truth, to the trained eye these are like a cheap suit and easily spotted.
Ultimately, if someone doesn’t trust you, they aren’t going to buy whatever you are selling or attempting to put across, so check in with yourself to see if you really believe in what you are doing! Let’s face it, if you’re not convinced, then there’s little or no chance of others being bowled over.