As you grow into a leadership role in your company, your responsibilities move away from a focus on yourself and more towards your team. As a leader, you are responsible for the growth of your teams capabilities as it is critical to maintain relevance and promote innovation in the industry.
Based on the responses to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer in Australia, employers are now seen as one of the most trusted institutions in Australia, with 78% trusting their employer. Out of the responses in the survey, one of the key employer attributes that saw an increase in importance over the last year was keeping workers safe.
Delivering a safe environment with trust is a guaranteed way to help your team evolve. Your team will need to be able to trust you to deliver them a safe workplace to explore new opportunities and test new ideas moving forward. This in turn helps with building a safe workplace, where trust leads to innovation.
Innovation requires change within the business, these changes bring risk, risks increase the chances of failure and failure can prevent or halt innovation.
Creating an environment where your team to feel safe to experience failure encourages them to take risks. This can foster growth, but it all starts with their trust in you.
How to build trust
Having trust in your team members allows them to feel more safe in their environment allowing them be more open, speak up with new ideas and try new ideas. But how do you build trust within your team? It is not a short term goal, building trust is a process of consistent and predictable interaction over a long time. You will need show your vulnerability as a leader to get your team to trust you. Without trust you will see the innovators within your team become quiet and more focused on updating their LinkedIn profiles looking for their next opportunity.
There a four topics I would like to cover for building trust is transparency, be personal, acknowledgement and approachable.
Putting clear structures in place for transparent decision making allows your team to feel like they are involved in the process and not feel like they are being told what to do. Be open about the company, people do not like to hear about layoffs and budget cuts, but by being transparent they can gain a better understanding of the values of a company and how challenges are addressed. An informed team has more trust in the business and your leadership.
It takes more than a compliment or a message to build trust. Trust is built by your actions following your words. Getting to know each of your team members personally is a good foundation for trust. Empathise and support your team members in both personal and professional lives will accelerate their trust in you and, in turn, give you a better understanding of their motivation and goals.
To grow your personal relationship with your team could be as simple as asking “Tell me about yourself?” or “How was your holiday?”. Actively listen and be engaged with the conversation will help you build better connections within your team.
When you find a team member going above and beyond, bring everyone together and acknowledge their achievement. Announce what the person did, the benefit it has brought to the business and encourage everyone to join in on the celebration. If your team member came up with a great idea, make sure you acknowledge them by name to your peers when presenting the idea to them. Acknowledging ones achievements doesn’t just put a smile on a team members face, it encourages engagement and support.
Make sure you share the acknowledgement; some team members can work quietly in the corner and can be hard to notice. If the team witness the same team member being celebrated more often it can lead to resentment and your hard work of building a trusting and supportive team can fall apart. It’s a fine line, but by being a trusted leader, your team will be transparent with you if they feel they are being overlooked.
Create an environment where you team feels comfortable to come and talk to you. It can be as simple as leaving your door open allowing your team to easily come speak with you. Sometimes less is more when it comes to being approachable. If a team member is struggling to achieve their deadline it is better for them to come to you for help, than allow the deadline to be missed. Support your team in their growth and they will feel comfortable to try new ideas without the fear of failure.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable, holding meetings to ask your team for advice or feedback allows them a chance to help you grow as their leader. Be prepared for responses that you may not be ready for, this process does get easier over time. Make sure you action the feedback received and, as you grow as a leader, you will also gain the trust of your team.
Building trust is not an easy process. Without a level of trust in your team innovation will go stale. You may find your team will wait for you to tell them what to do or wait for someone else to take the lead. Having a team with a high amount of trust can lead to greater innovation and engagement.
Being a leader requires you to take the first step by taking a proactive and intentional approach to start building trust with your team. Make trust a part of your regular activities, keep growing positive relationships with your team members by acknowledging their successes, listening to their concerns, supporting their growth and encouraging them to take risks.
By building trust you are empowering your team to become more autonomous and allows a safe innovative environment for them to thrive.