Honestly, I wish I learned this sooner. Having a tight network of trusted peers is as vital (and often trumps) your relationship with your boss and your direct reports. Trust matters even more with your peers because it’s TECHNICALLY optional and therefore more meaningful and sticky. There’s no “official” accountability levers. It’s easy to put them last on your trust-building priority list.
Your peers aren’t evaluating you on an employee engagement survey, or writing your performance appraisal. Often they have competing agendas, and of course you know it’s you against them in the stack rank.
So many of us buckle down, approach our peers with cautious pleasantries, and watch our backs.
Real trust develops when no one is watching…when you’ve got something to lose, and choose to be vulnerable anyway.
5 Ways to Get Your Peers to Trust You
Building trusting peer relationships starts with you. Here’s how.
1. Get Naked
Well not all the way, but at least take off your parka and mittens. Let them know what scares you (yes, yes, I know getting naked scares you. Do it anyway.) People trust those they can see. Share a vulnerability or two, and then wait for it. It might not happen right away, but stay open and investing as trust grows.
2. Give More Than You Receive
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a company and seen two teams with the same objectives, doing the same work, both with best practices that they’re completely keeping to themselves. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” is old school. Show your great idea first without worrying about what comes next.
3. Take a Field Trip
I learned this from one of my direct reports in my sales exec role. His peers in the finance department were not approving contracts for a subset of our customers. My deeply southern district manager got in the car and drove three hours for an old-fashioned visit. They had some sweet tea, cleared up misconceptions, developed a streamlined communication protocol, and our acceptance rate for that market skyrocketed. These were qualified customers that “didn’t look good on paper.” But the paper didn’t do them justice.
4. Lose a Battle
You don’t care equally about every issue. Know what’s worth going to the mat for, and what isn’t. A few concessions can gain you the reputation of being “easy to work with.” When you really need something, they’ll be more likely to trust your motives.
5. Lift Them Up
As a customer service director, my friend Dan and I stumbled on this one by accident. We were peers (who were always stack ranked against one another), but we also realized we had different gifts. I’m embarrassed to admit, he went first. He rolled up his sleeves and helped me tremendously on the operations side. He even silently sat in on a few tough customer calls and privately messaged me with what to do while I was getting my sea legs.
I then came to his region and helped him attack his employee engagement issues.
In every operations review we genuinely credited one another with our success. A high-tide rises all boats.
Don’t overlook the importance of trust amongst peers. It’s harder, it makes a difference, the big guys notice, and the relationships last a lifetime.
Are you looking to take your team to the next level? Please give me a call at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.