How 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 about how trustworthy you are. That would save a heck of a lot of precious time. If you could build trust more quickly, you could get on to making your usual magic.
How to Build Trust With a New Team (Video)
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 then let it go.
2. Listen, and then Listen Some More
Hear the frustration and understand the root cause. Ask courageous questions.
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. An look for ways to foster trust and collaboration within the team as well.
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 strategic stories of what your previous teams were able to achieve (not what YOU achieved).
Pick some important low-hanging fruit, and help the team achieve an early win. Nothing builds credibility faster than success. And even more importantly, be sure you give THEM the credit for success.
If the last guy was a jerk and stole credit, they may be skeptical to share ideas. One of the most surprising findings in our Courageous Cultures research was that the biggest reason employees withhold the ideas is that they are afraid they won’t be given the credit they deserve.
6. Let them See Who You Really Are, and What You Bring to the Table
This is the perfect time to show up with both confidence and humility.
Showing up with confidence helps build trust as you bring an inspiring vision worth rallying around and a well-articulated point of view. Share a bit of your expertise and what you bring to the table.
And of course, when building trust, a bit of vulnerability goes a long way. Let them know who you are and what scares you. Show up human and authentic.
7. Prove They Matter
If you want to build trust, show them you’ve got their backs. Take a bullet or two. 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.
Even though it’s tempting, try not to judge their early skeptical behavior. Or worse, assume they’re disengaged or don’t care. If they sense your frustration, that will only increase their defensive stance and it will be even more difficult to build trust. Investing deeply at the beginning of the relationship with your new team will create the strong foundation you need for long-term, breakthrough results.
What are your favorite best practices for building trust with a new team?