Change is a constant factor in many professional sectors. As new technologies emerge, and professionals are asked to adopt new strategies in their day-to-day practices, change frequently leaves experts in a team grasping for trust.
After all, the key to success in a situation that’s unfamiliar is the ability of a leader to guide his, or her team with competence and authority. Trust ensures that professionals can work seamlessly through the tides of change, adapting quickly to new evolutions so that businesses experience minimal lost productivity, disruption, and problems with motivation.
Unfortunately, trust is not an easy concept to deliver in the modern workplace. In an era, full of job-hopping employee’s leaders need to understand not only how to cultivate a high-performing team, but also how to generate confidence among a diverse group. When trust exists in a professional space, less time is wasted on the uncertainty that can arise during significant periods of change. So, how can leaders build trust when approaching the changing work environment?
What is Trust?
Before we can identify how leaders can create trust among their workforce, we need to begin by defining trust for the corporate space. Just like leadership, and other important skills, the ability to generate trust can be taught. That’s because trust isn’t just a touchy-feely emotion, but a strategic asset for a business that delivers significant economic value. According to “The Speed of Trust”, a summary created by Stephen M. Covey, when levels of trust are high, productivity and efficiency rise too.
In other words, if your team members can trust their leader, then they’ll give 100% to serving your fundamental goals. For businesses, that means that learning how to build trust makes great financial sense.
Step 1: Outlining Integrity
The first step to building trust when leading change is establishing the character of the person in charge. From a psychological perspective, people can only trust other people that act according to their own notions of what’s “right”. For a leader to be trusted, he or she needs to show their integrity in everything that they do, or say. This means that every leader should be consistent.
A leader with integrity lives by what they say. If the head of a team says that they’re going to finish a report by the end of the day, then his team members should know, without a doubt that he’ll deliver. Employees in a team can quickly notice the inconsistency in a person’s words and actions, and chalk the contrast up to inauthenticity. Unfortunately, inauthentic people don’t inspire trust. Instead, they cause suspicion. We can’t trust someone we can’t rely on to do what they say.
Step 2: Showing Accountability
Being a trustworthy leader doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be perfect. People, no matter how skilled they are, make mistakes. The sign of a trustworthy leader is one who can take responsibility for their actions. Therefore, clear accountability is a necessary feature of any high-trust culture.
Trust and betrayal are two issues that exist on sides of the same coin. If someone behaves inconsistently and doesn’t explain their actions, then people end up feeling betrayed and confused. However, if a leader is accountable for his or her behaviour, they encourage greater authenticity, integrity, and transparency. Additionally, a leader who is accountable inspires accountability in his team members too, which can make it easier for groups to work together.
Step 3: Proving Competency
It takes a lot of effort to create and preserve trust in a professional environment. Usually, the members of a team will need to see for themselves that their leader can perform before they’re able to trust their abilities. In other words, it’s not enough for a leader to tell their team that they’re competent in their role. Instead, all sectors need to be able to see that leader proving their competency.
For instance, an executive that undergoes extensive coaching to expand and preserve their skills is often more trustworthy than one that claims to have the correct talent but never shows it. Competency builds trust in performance and makes a person more believable.
Step 4: Consistent Communication
No matter the business sector, teams can’t trust leaders that they can’t relate to. Open communication in the workforce is a crucial way to deal with any trust-related issues that might arise during a big change. For instance, if the members of a team feel as though they can ask questions about a change in procedures, or communicate their opinions about an upcoming development, they’re more likely to feel comfortable with what’s happening in their company.
Team members who feel comfortable in their environment trust their leaders and leaders trust their team members to be active, attentive, and patient when necessary. In the evolving workforce, constant communication allows for a more productive, and connected team.
Step 5: Authority to Deliver
Finally, the last step in building trust as a leader for change is to show authority to deliver. Team members need to know that their leader has the authority to act and make changes on their behalf. Otherwise, anything they say or do can be called into question.
If a leader is given a task to complete, then he or she should always have the full authority to do whatever it takes to reach their goal. Inconsistency in delivery can undermine a leader’s position, and therefore damage trust in the future.
The Value of Trust
Trust is a crucial element of any team dynamic. It’s a primary factor in how people listen to each other, work together, and build effective relationships. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of the actions that influence trust.
With over 30 years of experience as a global leadership and communication skills team, Excel Communication can teach the techniques required to build trust in a workforce. Our experts deliver programmes in various languages, across four continents. Get in touch today on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.