Build trust with new employees by answering these four questions.
Whether you’re replacing talent because of the great resignation, or your team is growing fast because of your remarkable success, you know how vital it is to build trust quickly. Until there’s real trust, everything is harder and slower. And, who has time for that?
As David Horsager of the Trust Institute reminds us, “Trust is always the leading indicator, everything else follows.”(If you missed Karin’s Asking for a Friend Interview with David you can do watch that here. )
And, we know it’s not easy. Each week, we talk with team leaders challenged with building trust in their fast-growing, remote teams:
- “You know, it’s a bit wild. There are people on my team who’ve worked here for two years, and we’ve yet to be in the same room. I pride myself on the deep connections I have with my team, I just wish I could take my new team members out for a beer. It’s so much easier when we can spend time in a non-work setting. It’s so hard to connect this way.”
- “I’m stretched so thin, I want the team to count on me, but I’m concerned I’m not as reliable or responsive as I used to be.”
- “Our direction is changing so quickly, even folks we onboarded three months ago are doing different jobs than they signed up for. I worry I’m losing credibility.”
- “How can I convince new employees that I have their best interest at heart when they hardly know me? This stuff takes time. And I don’t have a lot of time right now.”
Answer These Four Questions to Build Better Trust
The research on trust is remarkably consistent around what matters most when building trust with team members.
Of course, competence matters. People need to know you know what you’re doing.
Reliability makes a huge difference. People trust people who do what they say.
When it comes to building trust, human connection has always been a huge differentiator—and it matters even more during times of uncertainty and change.
And finally, people want to know that your motives are good, that you care deeply about them and are investing in their growth.
So, if you’re looking to build trust with new employees quickly, start by asking yourself these four questions.
1. Are you competent and credible? (Do you know what you’re doing?)
Of course, there are a lot of different ways you can show up competent and credible, and it doesn’t necessarily mean being the go-to technical expert.
Start by providing a clear vision of success and direction for how to accomplish what matters most. Build a strong operating cadence to make that happen.
It may very well be that you have less technical expertise than your new team member. If that’s the case, you can gain credibility by acknowledging their strengths and showing your leadership competence in organizing everyone’s talents to achieve something remarkable.
One great way to gain a reputation as a trusted leader is to build a highly credible team.
2. Are you reliable and consistent? (Can your team count on you to do what you say you will?)
When employees first join a new team, they’re paying close attention to how things really go around here.
You can go a long way in building trust quickly, by consistently doing what you say you will.
When you say your staff meeting starts at 9:00, you build trust when it starts at 9:00, not 9:10 because you got a call from your boss.
If you scheduled a virtual one-on-one for Tuesday afternoons, do your best not to cancel it.
If you say accountability matters, but you let the slackers slide, you immediately lose trust that’s hard to regain.
3. Are you connecting at a human level? (Do people know who you are, and do you know them?)
Yes, it’s more challenging on a remote team, but the effort to really get to know each member of your team at a human level will go a long way in accelerating trust. The best way to build trust on a team is one person at a time.
4. Do you truly care about your people? (Or are you out for yourself?)
You can be credible, reliable and have established a real human connection with your new employees, but if they think you’re out for yourself, you don’t have a fighting chance of building genuine trust.
In our research on psychological safety and trust, we found one big mistake managers make in this regard is not giving employees credit for their work.
56% said they withhold ideas that would improve the business because they don’t think they’ll get credit. That’s a trust issue that will impact your team effectiveness fast.
It’s likely some of these components of trust come more easily to you than others. We offer these questions to help you think more broadly about how to build deeper trust with new employees.
We would love to hear from you. What would you add?