How Do I Get My Team to Trust Me? (Story and Video)

Our 8th Winning Well Principle: Trust the Trenches has so many nuances, all of which I learned the hard way. For me, it wasn’t the delegating, or asking for input, that was the hardest… it was trusting my team enough to be vulnerable. To trust them enough to admit that I’m far from perfect, and having the confidence to know that was okay. I still had vision. And a plan. And we could still win well.

“Because when people see leaders who are real and have real life challenges,
they look at those leaders and say,
“Wow, she’s not perfect.
And I’m not perfect.
And we can still win well together.”

The Hardest Way to Trust the Trenches

I had just been promoted to my first executive job in human resources at Verizon. All the players were new. I had a new boss and an entire new C-level suite to impress. And because sometimes life throws you curve balls, I was also going through a divorce and was trying to navigate an unexpected life as a single mom.

I hadn’t told a soul. My best friends at work didn’t know. And my boss certainly had no idea.

So here’s what I imagined would be said about me. 

Well, we know we can’t talk about this, but…

“This is probably not the right time for her. Yes she’s high-potential, but with all this personal stuff on her plate…”

“I’m not sure she’ll be able to manage the travel of this high-profile role as a single mom.”

“She’s young. Let’s skip this round with her, and wait to see how she handles her new life circumstances.”

So I did what I thought was best and ignored the unspeakable.

Which might not have been a terrible approach. Except…

My First Project in the New Role

My first assignment in my new role was to build a diversity strategy. I was to gather a “max mix” of managers (think race, age, sexual orientation) from across disciplines and cultures to talk about the very real challenges that were limiting our ability to have an inclusive culture.

And it was working.

We had an amazing team. And great dialogue. Scott, the gay man, came out to us for the first time at work–and that informed our strategy.

Sherika shared a few horrible examples of being overlooked as a woman of color–and that informed our strategy.

John, who weighed 400 lbs., opened our eyes to discrimination we hadn’t even considered–and that informed our strategy.

We were on the cusp of presenting our recommendations to senior leadership, when Sherika burst into my office, and shared her truth from the trenches.

“Karin you are a fraud.”

“All this time we’ve been talking about diversity, and what really matters. Scott came out to you and you applauded. I shared my story, and you raised an enthusiastic, ‘Game on… let’s address that.” And John was close to tears in sharing his deal, and you wrote the travel policy into the plan. And there you sat, TOTALLY QUIET, as we discussed the challenges for single moms.

Our single mother strategy is incomplete. And you know it.

Yeah, we talked about schedules and daycare. But what about the fact that executives like you have to hide who they are for fear of being discounted?”

Sherika was right.

Imagine the Difference

Sherika shared, “Karin, trust goes both ways.”

“Can you imagine what would have happened if you had told us the truth?”

“Hey guys, this discussion of single moms is only half the battle. Yeah, we need daycare, and flexible schedules. But we also need to make it safe for people to show up how they really are at work. Without judgement.  I’m a single mom too. I don’t meet the profile we’ve been discussing. AND I’m scared as hell that the minute people find out that I don’t have a husband, all bets are off.”

THAT would inform our diversity strategy.

Trusting the trenches starts with–trusting the trenches to be who you are.

Sherika’s message changed my approach to leadership forever.

To win the trust of your team, you have to trust them to trust you.

Trust the trenches to accept (and even embrace) that you are human being too.

And lead from there.

 

3 Consequences of Promoting the Smart, Successful Jerk (with video)

Oh he’s good. Very good. He gets sh__ done. It’s hard to argue with the results. So what if he’s ruffling a few feathers… with his team, with his peers, with HR, with IT?  The better he does, the better you look. And so you choose to look the other way, shrug your shoulders and chalk it up to the cost of genius.

And that may work. For a while. If you’re lucky you can get him promoted and cross your fingers that someday he will be in a position to return the favor. Which of course is a roll of the dice with a guy like that. But then again, you certainly don’t want to be on his bad side.

Another shoulder shrug, and there you are defending his obnoxious moves, helping him to move on and get out of your hair.

3 Consequences of Promoting the Smart, Successful Jerk

  1. Everyone’s Taking Notes
    I’ve been in enough focus groups across enough companies to tell you–when you promote the jerk, people assume it’s the jerk behavior that sealed the deal. No one assumes they got promoted in spite of their obvious lack of couth. You’ve just sanctioned destructive behavior that people now justify to themselves as the “only way” to make it.
  2. You Instantly Tank Your Credibility
    Even if you spend most of your time leading as a Winning Well manager, you’ll lose the hearts and minds of those looking up to you believing it’s possible to get results–without losing your soul. Promoting a jerk who gets (short-term) results without looking at the impact on the relationships they need to sustain them, is a credibility busting move with the true A players you need for lasting success. The minute you’ve made the announcement, they’re looking around for a smarter boss to work for, who gets the bigger picture.
  3. You Fuel the “Why Bother?” Factor
    When the “witch” gets promoted, there’s going to be a certain segment of your box 9  high potential employees who are going to shout “No way. If that’s what it takes, I’m not interested.” They won’t say much, and they’ll keep up appearances–but the extra effort will likely go elsewhere. True A players are always working hard… it’s just a matter of where they’re investing their energy.

Don’t underestimate the consequences of supporting and promoting a high-potential jerk. Sure, it’s the path of least resistance. But can you imagine the impact of investing strategically in their development to help them grow past it? Recovering jerky A players rank among some of the best leaders I know.

Take the time to go there.

 

team

Frontline Festival: Leaders Give Pointers on Creating Connection

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about creating connection. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival follows up on this month’s with a theme all about team time. The question for the month is:  What practical tips do you have for working well with a team and building a sense of teamwork?? Submit your teamwork related blog posts and answers to that question here!

Amanda Cameron of Patriot Software, LLC explains the importance of promoting teamwork in an organization and the positive results that can be achieved through creating connection. Learn the benefits of a team that works together, tips for encouraging teamwork, and how Patriot Software uses unique methods to connect team members. Follow Amanda.

According to David Grossman of The Grossman Group great leaders don’t just manage employees; they make sure employees are motivated, engaged and inspired when coming to work. There are a number of ways this can be done, from asking open-ended questions to create dialogue and being a role model, to recognizing employees for doing their job. More on these, and 7 other ways to engage and connect with employees here.  Follow David.

David Chaudron of Organized Change  recalls that Traditional Management theory had managers dictating work and assigning tasks to workers. Today we know that an engaged employee is more productive and has more to offer than completing assigned tasked. 360 Feedback systems connect the loop for communication and engagement Follow David.

According to William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts, your ability to connect with others is directly related to your ability to demonstrate empathy for them.  This post talks about key elements for you to make an empathetic connection and some key “Don’ts” that could hijack your efforts.Follow William.

Communication, the human connection, is the key to personal and career success. ~ Paul J. Meyer

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares the most important single thing you can do to create connections and start conversations. Follow Wally.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership reminds us that identifying team values are a great way to create team connection. But if it’s not done right, it can actually create discord, as this short story shows. This post also includes 6 questions to ensure your team values unite your team. Follow Jesse Lyn.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement believes it is important to focus on creating a shared connection to working together.  He advises that we seek to provide people an opportunity to take pride in their work.  With intrinsic motivation for being proud of the work that naturally encourages people to work together.  Artificial “bonding” outside of the context of work mostly doesn’t translate to the work environment and therefore is not where we should focus.Follow John.

David Dye of Trailblaze tells us that one of the most powerful opportunities you have to connect with your team – is when things go wrong. David shares how you can Own the Ugly and show them they can trust you. Follow David.

Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact. ~ Martha Beck

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates knows that connection and motivation can go hand in hand. Using brain science, she provides five ways to motivate your team. Follow Shelley

Alli Polin of Break the Frame   observes that teams are increasingly decentralized and leaders are challenged to create connection when face to face interaction is infrequent at best. She provides a guide to help leaders facilitate success in the age of virtual teams. Follow Alli.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares a challenge that teams sometimes face. It’s the amount of work that needs to get done, and the tendency to “dump” work from one person to another. When team members find ways to work together to solve a joint problem or issue, the dumping often lessens or stops, but sometimes getting together isn’t that easy to do. She gives a few suggestions on how to do it. Follow Lisa.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited recognizes that in order to foster strong team relationships, sometimes you need to apologize. She gives some pointers on how to apologize well. Follow Beth.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. ~ Robin S. Sharma

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference reflects that creating a connection between members of any team requires trust. To recover from our current trust depression, we need to reexamine some of our decades-old thought patterns and rethink our assumptions. With new information and updated analysis, we can craft plans to help employees and partners while building trust in the process. Follow Jon.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture   reminds us that creating  authentic care–a genuine connection  where team members like and trust each other-takes time, energy, and consistency. A bowling event or a trust fall exercise won’t have long term benefits unless the experience can be quickly tied to daily challenges the team faces. In his post, “Most Teambuilding Isn’t,” he proposes a proven path to helping create trust and respect across a team. Follow Chris.

Show Me the Love: Recognition that Makes a Difference (with video)

Yesterday a high-potential, high-performing VP called:

Karin, the thing is, I know I’ve been accomplishing a lot. And I shouldn’t need this. But, I just wish one of the big guys would just say “thank you.” HR and my peers have told me “Oh, if you haven’t heard anything, you can be sure you’re doing just fine. if you’re screwing up, that will be perfectly clear. No news is good news. But. The truth is, I’m so hungry for a simple “thank you,” or a nod that I’m on the right track. Is that bad?

Of course not, I replied. “It means you’re human.”

Yes, even the guys getting paid “the big bucks” need to hear that they matter and are making a difference.

If they are, and you’re in a position to tell them– please do. And if they’re not, please tell them why. Silence does nothing to advance the game.

And for everyone else. If an exec being given increased responsibility and a healthy paycheck feels this way, imagine what the lack of meaningful feedback and recognition feels like at the front line.

When it comes to showing appreciation, it’s hard to over do recognition–  if it’s done well and is spoken from the heart.

And so this Valentine’s Day we bring you…

Try This Surprisingly Simple Way to Raise the Bar

She looked right at me and yelled across the gym floor with conviction, “You are a dancer!”

Now there are a lot of labels I’m ready to buy:  “You are a leader!” I hope so.

“You are a Mom!” Well, that one could go both ways, couldn’t it? Anything from “Good job, Mom” to “Is this your kid? What was he thinking?”

“You are a keynoter!” I’m working hard every day on my craft, so yes, I’ll take that.

But “You are a dancer?” Seriously? Not me.

But there I was in Barre class at my gym, trying to tone away the Christmas cookies, and the instructor, who clearly IS a dancer, once again looks at me.

“Dancers look at the audience not the floor.” I straightened up. I quickly glanced around the studio, everyone else was standing taller too. Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t just speaking to me.

“Dancers present their legs with a little more attitude in this move. And “YOU are a dancer. A little more attitude please.”

I watched as this entire room of stressed out moms of toddlers, athletes, executives, and folks clearly in it for their January resolution all brought a little more positive “attitude” to the dance.

A Simple Way to Raise the Bar

Want to raise the bar? Help your team get beyond the just.

“I’m just a keynoter looking to tone and be more graceful on the stage.” True. But how much faster will I get there, if I also embrace my lurking dancer?

“Oh, I’m just a tech guy without an eye for design. Just tell me exactly what you want on your website and I’ll do it, but don’t ask me think to about the way it looks.” Or, “You are a website genius. What do you think is most compelling?”

“Oh I’m just a ticket agent, I don’t make the rules.”  Or, “You are creative travel steward.”

“I’m just _____, ” is a self-limiting cop-out which squashes potential and lowers the bar for all of us. Just because you’re this, doesn’t mean you can’t serve the world more effectively by also being a little of that.

How will you raise the bar for yourself and your team in 2017?