7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust With Your Team

Trust is tricky. It sure looks easy on paper (or a blog post.) But get out in real life, and what seems obvious and easy, suddenly becomes more difficult than securing funding for a corporate hover-craft. The sooner we talk about trust, why it works, and how it breaks down the better. That’s why I always start any emerging leader program by talking about trust.

I’m preparing now for a new emerging leader program for one of my clients. Our first session is called: Trust Matters: Behaviors and Techniques that Foster Trust and Connection. 

As part of the workshop, we’ll focus on these 7 fundamentals and have dialogue about why it’s so hard to pull off, and what to do to increase your chances of success.

7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust with Your Team

  1. Trust Yourself
    “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” -Golda Meir   Your team looks to you for clues about whether to trust you. Genuine confidence goes a long way in building trust.
  2. Have a Solid Plan
    “Those who trust by chance must abide by the results of chance.” -Calvin Coolidge
    Everyone feels safer when they know where they’re headed and what to expect. You can’t control everything, but the more solid your plan, the more apt your team will be to trust that you know what you’re doing.
  3. Ask Great Questions
    “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he asks the right questions.” -Claude Levi Strauss
    The best way to convince your team you know what you’re doing and are paying attention is to ask great questions. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing and why.
  4. Always Tell the Truth
    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important matters.” -Albert Einstein
    It’s so tempting to spin what’s going on to make it more palatable. But at some point, your team will taste the truth and your credibility will suffer. Of course, you can’t share everything. Sometimes the truth is that plans are still under development and it would be pre-mature to share. Your team will respect that far more than a half-baked, fabricated story.
  5. Give Them Some Space
    “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him–and to let him know that you trust him.” –Booker T. Washington
    No one likes to be micro-managed, but then again too much space can lead to unclear expectations. Invest in an ongoing dialogue about what level of over-sight and support will achieve the best results.
  6. Admit When You’re Wrong
    “Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.”- Eric Sevareid
    Chances are when you screw up, your team already knows. Admitting your mistakes goes a long way in building trust and enhancing your credibility.
  7. Be Consistent
    “Trust is built with consistency.” –Lincoln Chafee
    In a turbulent world, people long for as much consistency as possible. Knowing that “If I do x, I get y,” goes a long way in building trust. Sure, circumstances vary. When you’re purposefully inconsistent be sure to explain why.

Building trust takes time and real effort. None of us nail all these all of the time. It’s worth an honest assessment of where you stand and to make a deliberate investment in improving the trust with your team.

Working on your 2016 leadership development strategy? I’d love to help! Please contact me for a free consultation 443-750-1249.

Also, if you have not yet completed my 2016 planning survey, I would really like your input on how I can add more value to you and your organization in 2016. Please click here. 

A Powerful Way to Gain the Trust of Your Team

building trustThe Senior Vice President stood in front of my all hands meeting of 300 and said, “I was wrong.” I’ve never heard a group that size sit in such silence. I’m not even sure we were breathing.

You see, she had been a naysayer. She knew the mission our team had been given was necessary, but she didn’t believe it could be done. This stung twice as hard because she’d been a mentor of mine for years. In some ways the mission to prove her wrong by accomplishing “the impossible” became quite personal.

And we had.

She could have chosen lots of other words to open up her talk. Words that would have saved face, but none that could have given her more credibility. “I was wrong, I didn’t think it could be done. You did it. Congratulations, and thank you.”

5 Ways to Admit You’re Wrong

The ability to admit you’re wrong is the ultimate sign of confident humility. It takes guts to admit you’ve made a mistake. More importantly, being vulnerable enough to admit you’re wrong makes it safe for others to do so too. Imagine a world where more people were that honest with themselves and others.

Quite frankly, many leaders screw this up. They reinvent history to justify their actions (another wrong.) No matter how you spin it two wrongs don’t make a right.

Next time you screw up, follow these tips.

1. Be straightforward

The power of her statement was that it was so blunt. “I was wrong.” She could have said something much softer with less impact, “You did a solid job,” would have been easier on her ego.

2. Explain why

Share what you’ve learned or would do differently. Articulating the lesson helps everyone learn.

3. Take accountability

Don’t be a blamer. “I was wrong, but Joe gave me bad information” or “I was wrong, but my boss had me distracted with other things” is basically saying, “Even if I am wrong, it doesn’t count.”

4. Apologize if needed

In this case there was no apology necessary, she was a leader with an opinion doing her job by expressing it. In fact, I’ll admit that her skepticism fired us up. It’s quite possible in some wacky way working to prove her wrong helped us win. But, if being wrong hurt someone, “I’m wrong,” coupled with “I’m sorry,” can go even further.

4.Follow-through

Of course the most sincere way to apologize is to not do it again. I have a friend who cheated on his wife. He admitted he was wrong, apologized, owned it… and then did it again. She left him. Those words only worked once.

7 Ways to Show Your Team You Trust Them

Trust begets trust. The best way to get your team to trust you is to trust them. Hire for trust. Require trust. Rid your team of untrustworthy players. And then, show your team how much you trust them. Here’s how.

7 Ways to Show Your Team You Trust Them

1. Set Audacious Goals

Oh sure your team may grumble. But there’s no greater gift you can give your team than leading them toward head-turning results. Set the bar high and then look them in the eye, “I believe in you. I know what this team is capable of. Now let’s figure out just how, together.” Show trust by believing it’s possible.

2. Tell The Truth

Even when it’s hard.  Don’t sugarcoat the bad news. Play it straight. Show trust by treating them like grown-ups.

3. Invite Them To Come Along

I’ll never forget of my best first bosses, Gail. She would constantly take me along to senior level meetings, arguing that “no one could explain it better” than I could. Of course that wasn’t true, she was one of the most gifted explainers I know. But she trusted I would do okay, and was secure enough to give up the spotlight. I’ve been amazed at how many bosses are afraid to give such opportunities to their team. Show trust by sharing the stage.

4. Admit What You Don’t Know

Show your team you trust them by admitting you don’t have all the answers. Trust them with your concerns. Trust them with your questions. Show trust by being real.

5. Encourage Them to Meet Without You

This one took me a minute to get used to (you can read about that here), but a great way to show trust in your team is to give them a big hairy problem and ask them to meet to figure it out. Make sure that any information and parameters they may need gets out of your head and into theirs first, otherwise they’ll spin their wheels. Show trust by getting out of the way.

6. Tell Them

This one might seem obvious or even silly, but I guarantee it can’t hurt. Can you imagine how good it would feel to hear, “I really trust you because_________.” Show trust by telling them why.

7. Forgive Them

If your team screws up, talk about it, help them learn, and then move on. Show trust by letting it go.

PrintTrust Across America has once again released their list of Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior. See the list (and lots of other great content) in their lastest online issue of Trust Magazine. I feel very honored and humbled to be included with such amazing trust leaders.

Are you looking to build greater trust with your team? I’d love to help. Give me a call at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

Who Do You Trust? An Easy Team Exercise

“Do you trust me?” What a loaded question. It’s tough, even with people we love. “Sure, I trust you to be faithful, but do I trust you’ll remember to pick up the dry cleaning?” Even small actions can build or diminish trust over time.

Defining the behaviors that breed trust can go a long way in encouraging more of the good stuff on teams. Let’s have some fun with this easy trust building exercise.

An Easy Team Trust Exercise

Materials Needed:

for the initial conversation

  • yellow sticky notes
  • a wall or white board
  • easel paper and markers

to make it last

  • an artist (if you don’t have one on your team, you can find one online for a reasonable price. Joy Guthrie does a nice job. Or you can find other creative help on Fiverr)
  • a laminator

Process:

  1. Ask each team member to write down what they consider their own most trustworthy characteristics, one per sticky note (e.g. set clear expectations, tell the truth, follow-through). They can come up with as many examples as they like. Don’t skip this step, introspection is an important part of the process.
  2. Ask each person to share three of their trustworthy characteristics with the group. Some discussion may occur naturally here. Allow that to happen.
  3. Have each team member place their sticky notes on the wall or white board, and begin to group them into similar clusters.
  4. Identify the themes and write them on the easel paper.
  5. Now the fun part: have the team design their ideal trusted team member. For now this can be just a stick figure with labels, but encourage the team to get creative (e.g. sincere eyes, strong arms for heavy lifting, transparent heart). Name this little guy, or gal (e.g, Trusted Tracy).
  6. To keep the conversation going, have an artistic team member (or rent some help online) draw up the caricature of your ideal trusted team member (with labels highlighting the characteristics). Laminate the caricature (like your very own team Flat Stanley)
  7. When your team comes together for team meetings or other events, find time to ask who wins the “Trusted Tracy” award? And why. This is a great way for people to nominate and highlight the trusted behaviors that are happening on the team. Team members can do a casual “vote” to select a winner, and that person gets to hold on to “Tracy” in his or her cube or office until the next time. This works for virtual teams as well, just take a pic and turn it into an email-able image.

Let’s have some fun ourselves! Send me your ideas for building our own Trusted Tracy, and we’ll turn it into pic. If there are artists out there who want to play, I’ll include them in the post as well. Let’s have a big LGL Friday virtual team builder Even if you’ve never commented before, this is an easy time to chime in.

Thanks for all your contributions!  Here’s our composite (click to see a bigger version).

TrustedTracy(800x600)

7 Ways to Build Trust When Your New Team is Skeptical

You’ve got a long track record of leading well. You just wish your new team would talk to your last team. That would save a heck of a lot of precious time. If they would just trust you, you could get on to making your usual magic. But it’s never as simple as that. If you’re good, at this stage of the game you may feel you deserve a better reception from your new team. You may, but they’re still skeptical. The last guy was a jerk and the scars are still oozing.

7 Ways to Build Trust with a Skeptical Team

1.  Don’t Trash the Last Guy

The more you listen, the worse the stories will sound. It’s tempting to react and trash the guy before. It may feel cathartic, and it may even feel like you’re part of the solution. Don’t go there. Build your credibility on your own merits. No good ever comes from tearing other people down. Besides, you never know the whole story. Tell the stories at dinner to your spouse and (if they’re not too dirty) to your kids. Then let it go.

2.  Listen, and then Listen Some More

Hear the frustration and understand the root cause. Get to know the team as human beings. But be careful. Watch your facial expressions. See #1.  Seek to understand, but resist the urge to judge.

3.  Break it Down

The best way to get to know a new team is one person at a time. Invest deeply one-on-one. Learn about what they need, want, and yearn most to give. Here’s a tool that can help.

4. Share Stories

The team is yearning for signs that you are credible and competent. Share a bit about your leadership track record of results–framing it in the context of stories of what your previous teams were able to achieve (not what YOU achieved).

5. Find some Early Wins

Pick some important low-hanging fruit, and help the team achieve an early win. Nothing builds credibility faster than success.

6. Let them in

Tell the truth. Be a bit vulnerable. Let them know who you are and what scares you. Show up human.  This post can help.

7. Prove They Matter

Show them you’ve got their backs. Take a bullet or two. Give them the credit. The team needs to know you care about them and their careers at least as much as you care about your own. First impressions matter, for you and for them. Don’t judge their early skeptical behavior, or assume they’re disengaged or don’t care. If they sense your frustration, that will only increase their defensive stance. Investing deeply at the beginning will create the strong foundation you need for long-term, breakthrough results.

how do I build trust with my BPO strategic partners

12 Components Of Trusted Strategic Partnerships

“But how do you KNOW our BPO vendors will follow-through, if we don’t put it in the contract?” I looked at my COO assuredly, “because they told me they would.”

“But what if they DON’T?, my boss continued.

“If they don’t do what they say, we’ve got much bigger problems than this metric. That would be a breach of our trusted partnership we’ve worked so hard to build over the last 2 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for writing great contracts. Over the last few years, I’ve learned the intricacies of this fine art and always start with a great contract– focused on incenting what matters most.

But I also know the minute you have to refer to the contract explicitlyk, you’re in trouble.

To achieve results create deeply connected, transparent, mutually beneficial relationships.

What Makes A Partner Trustworthy?

The Trust Across America built a quantifiable business case for trust, aggregating data based on FACTS

  • Financial stability and strength
  • Accounting conservativeness
  • Corporate governance
  • Transparency
  • Sustainability

What was not included in the model was my favorite part of their crowdsourced book, Trust Inc: Strategies For Building Your Companies Assets, Be Thoughtful.

“If your company is serious about increasing trustworthiness, consider engaging all of your stakeholders in rich thoughtful conversations. Don’t approach them as constituencies to be maneuvered, managed or massaged. Instead, view them as vital contributors to a better organization by letting them into the conversation. To be a thoughtful company with a thoughtful strategy, trust for stakeholders must be thoughtful.”

When I spoke with Barbara she shared that leadership is “tough to measure.” But leadership and relationships will make or break a company’s success. Trust translates to contracts, winning the deal and new business.

As leader of a Strategic Partnership Channel (formerly known as the vendor management organization) I offer big, un-written, and un-articulated rules that work best in our strategic partnerships. These norms apply to both sides of the relationship. I start and end relationships based on trust.

12 Keys to Trusted Strategic Partnerships

  1. Really understand one another’s business
  2. Invest in connecting as human beings beyond the business role
  3. Know how you each make money
  4. Tell the truth (even when it’s awkward, embarrassing, or could cost you business)
  5. Don’t commit to more than you can do well (repeat this one 3 times)
  6. Don’t play games… EVER
  7. Don’t wine and dine… the best deals are done over chopsticks or a long walk
  8. Lose some battles, admit when you’re wrong
  9. Let logic prevail, even when contracts are on “your side”
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  11. Think long-term
  12. Reward trusted partnerships with more business/effort

This list applies to business partnerships and just about any partnership you can think of. Please share your views.

Trusted and Empowered? 6 Ways to Get Your Boss To Trust You

Last week’s post, A Matter of Trust, generated some great conversation on the Center For Creative Leadership LinkedIn group. One interesting addition was a paradoxical question from Carol Ann Hamilton, “which comes first, trust or trust?” Indeed, trust is a complex two-way street.

In a follow-up conversation she shared:

Let’s make three lists:

1.) Someday
2.) The Bigger Story
3.) Now

Onto “Someday,” place everything you haven’t touched and that really doesn’t relate to anything in the short-term (because if it did, you’d have completed it already).
I ask this paradoxical question to get my facilitation and coaching clients to think about which type of person they generally are: 1) Do you accord trust naturally and only re-evaluate your interactions with someone if it is violated? or 2) Does trust have to be earned with you, so that you dole out your trust and respect when the other proves themselves worthy in your books?

The truth is most leaders (including me), don’t treat everyone on their team with the same level of trust. Whether we “accord trust naturally” or if “it has to be earned,” trust is impacted by behaviors. We learn who we can trust with the most important work. Those we trust, we empower with less oversight. When someone has given us cause to question their competence or follow-through, we are more likely to double-check and provide more hands-on support.

Carol’s question got me thinking: what are the behaviors that lead me to fully trust someone on my team? What behaviors cause me to back off and let them do their thing? Here are my top 6. I hope you will add more to the list in your comments.

Your Boss Will Trust You When You

1. Do what you say you will

Every time. Integrity and consistency are vital to trust. When stuff happens that changes your commitment, communicate quickly and explain why.

2. Follow through

This one is slightly different from #1. Follow-through involves looking at the outcomes of your actions and ensuring they achieved the desired result. “Doing what you say” is not enough if it did not produce the right outcome. There is more work to do. Do it, or ask for help.

3. Develop great peer relationships

You boss cares what other people are saying about you. She wants to know you work well with others, offering and asking for help when needed.

4. Follow the “no blind side” rule

This is the one I see breakdown the most. Always be the first to share your own bad news and what you are doing about it. Don’t let your boss get wind of a breakdown through the grapevine (or worse, from their boss).

5. Know the details

You boss will trust you when you know what you are doing. She will be less likely to want to know every detail if she is sure that you do.

6. Ask what else you can do to help

No boss wants to wonder if their people have enough to do. If you have extra bandwidth offer to do more. Your boss will then trust that you have plenty to do when you are not asking.

 

A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don't

Developing real trust takes time. The people we lead come to us with history, memories, and experiences–they recall times of trust inspired and trust betrayed. When we are in a new gig, our teams watch even more closely.

  • “Can I trust you?”
  • “How do you talk to your boss?”
  • “Are you like the last guy?”

When we have been with a team longer, our teams have real perceptions and interpretations of our actions.

  • “Is this a pattern?”
  • “Does she always have my back?”
  • “How does he act under stress?”
  • “How is she treating everyone else?”

After years of leading, being led, coaching leaders, reading employee surveys, and hanging out with leaders here’s my best summary of what inspires or destroys trust.

“Why I Trust You”

Because you

  • let me know where I stand
  • share information
  • back me up
  • help me learn from mistakes
  • share how you make decisions
  • treat other people well
  • do what you say you will
  • understand what makes me tick
  • have my best interests in mind
  • admit when you are wrong
  • encourage dissent

Why I Don’t

Because you

  • let politics trump logic
  • withhold information I need
  • talk about me behind my back
  • break commitments
  • keep changing your mind
  • react without understanding
  • don’t get to know me
  • ignore me

What are you doing to develop trust within your teams?

A Matter of Trust: Why I Trust You, Why I Don’t

Developing real trust takes time. The people we lead come to us with history, memories, and experiences–they recall times of trust inspired and trust betrayed. When we are in a new gig, our teams watch even more closely.

  • “Can I trust you?”
  • “How do you talk to your boss?”
  • “Are you like the last guy?”

When we have been with a team longer, our teams have real perceptions and interpretations of our actions.

  • “Is this a pattern?”
  • “Does she always have my back?”
  • “How does he act under stress?”
  • “How is she treating everyone else?”

After years of leading, being led, coaching leaders, reading employee surveys, and hanging out with leaders here’s my best summary of what inspires or destroys trust.

“Why I Trust You”

Because you

  • let me know where I stand
  • share information
  • back me up
  • help me learn from mistakes
  • share how you make decisions
  • treat other people well
  • do what you say you will
  • understand what makes me tick
  • have my best interests in mind
  • admit when you are wrong
  • encourage dissent

Why I Don’t

Because you

  • let politics trump logic
  • withhold information I need
  • talk about me behind my back
  • break commitments
  • keep changing your mind
  • react without understanding
  • don’t get to know me
  • ignore me

What are you doing to develop trust within your teams?