If you read and applied the principles found the post HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE, this post should come easily. If you find it difficult to trust your team, you really don’t trust yourself to make a good hiring decision.

Because, as managers, we are confident in our abilities, I can assume you are confident in your ability as a manager to judge character, skill and personality, and ultimately hired the right candidate for the job. Now trust them to live up to your expectations.

If you’ve set clear goals and expectations, then trust them to achieve the goal. Every individual wants to succeed. Failure is never fun. Trust that your team feels this same way – they want to succeed. If you’ve built up a rapport with your team, not only do they not want to fail for themselves, they don’t want to let you down either. This is key to both their success and yours.

Trust comes in various forms.

It may come in the form of trusting them to meet a deadline. Frequently following up on an already established goal and deadline can be perceived as untrusting. The question, “where are you at with the project that’s due tomorrow?” may seems harmless, but actually shows that you don’t trust them to meet the deadline.

Trust may also come in the form of decision-making. Allow your team to make tough decisions, even ones you may not agree with. Constant rejection of ideas or decisions will erode their confidence and will show you don’t trust them. The simple question, “what do you think?” is a powerful trust builder. This shows you care about their ideas, but also trust their experience on the topic. Use it often.

Trust also comes in the form of believing the best in people. If you see a team member on Facebook, trust they just got on for a quick break and not that they’ve been on it for hours. If they call in sick, trust that they are sick, not just skipping work. If they make a bad decision, trust that they made the decision with the best intentions to achieve the aforementioned goals. If they miss a goal, trust they gave it their best shot.

Believing the best in people will not only inspire confidence from your team, it will make your job as a manager much easier. If you are always second-guessing your team’s intentions or integrity, you will quickly erode the morale on the team, which will ultimately lead to lower productivity.

However, from time to time a team member may become untrustworthy. At which point, you may need to monitor they work and progress. This is a difficult rope to balance on. If you micromanage or monitor too closely, they may become despondent and see no way of gaining your trust back. If they have exhibited clear reason to lose your trust, address this quickly. Outline what it was they did that caused this loss of trust and set a clear path to gaining that trust back. Once the path has been completed, do not continue to bring up the past issue. “Forgive and forget” if you will.

Micromanagement is a clear sign of the lack of trust between manager and employee. DO NOT do it. If you are worried a team member may miss an important deadline, a perfect way to “touch base” is to form it from a support perspective. Ask, “Did you need anything from me to be successful on that project.” This shows them that you are there to help, but trust they can do it alone if need be.

Finally, when the final project is delivered, never use the phrase, “this is a good start”. Depending on the time they worked on it, they probably believe this is the finished product. Instead, if they deliver a product that does not meet your expectations, apologize for not setting clear expectation – it’s usually your fault they didn’t deliver to your expectations, not theirs. After you apologize then you can comment about missing, incomplete or poorly executed elements to the project. However, after every comment ask the question “what do you think?” This shows that just because they didn’t deliver to your expectations, does not mean you no longer trust them. Keeping their confidence intact is of utmost importance after “failed” projects.

Too many “failed” projects and you either need to ask yourself if you are communicating correctly or if the employee is just not up to the tasks you are giving them and it’s time to let them go.

Published by

Eric Davis

Hello. I’m Eric Davis, an award-winning Product Designer and Researcher based in Boise, Idaho. I leverage design thinking and analytics to craft unforgettable experiences. I specialize in navigation, way-finding and understanding through practical designs.

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