As we noted in last month’s post, trust is a critical component in any professional relationship. Employees need to be able to trust their leaders, while also feeling like their leaders trust them. Maintaining this kind of two-way trust is difficult, but by no means impossible. In our view, there are three essential elements for managers looking to earn the trust of their direct reports.
1) Prioritize Honest Feedback
Often, when we think about trust, we think about comfort. When we feel fully comfortable with another person, we take that as an indicator that we truly trust them.
Actually, though, trust may sometimes require some uncomfortable situations. This is particularly true in the relationships between managers and employees. Managers often face the need to provide workers who have fallen short with some words of direct, even blunt feedback. This may make both parties feel a little awkward, but actually, the manager who provides honest feedback and constructive criticism is demonstrating a willingness to tell the truth, even when doing so is difficult. And that’s an important prerequisite to trust.
Employees generally prefer to know where they stand, whether it’s during an annual review or a more casual check-in. And most of the time, employees will feel a greater sense of trust toward managers who offer direct, clear guidance, as opposed to masking their opinions or beating around the bush.
2) Show Your Humanity
The flipside of this coin is that, sometimes, managers do need to help employees feel more comfortable and at ease. To that end, it’s critical for those in leadership positions to model relatability from time to time.
One way to do this is by scheduling regular social events, even if it’s just a quick office happy hour. But it’s equally important to show empathy when employees need to take time off. If a worker asks for a few days of sick or bereavement time, managers should show them understanding, as opposed to making them feel bad for the missed time or the inconvenience experienced by the rest of the team.
3) Seek Assessment
Finally, just as managers must be willing to voice constructive criticism to their employees, they should also be receptive to employees who have feedback of their own.
During regularly scheduled performance reviews and team huddles, managers should always open the floor for feedback or concerns. Be sure to listen with the intent to understand, accept critical comments graciously, rather than dismissing them out of hand, and circle back around with any suggestions that are really worthwhile. More than anything, create an environment in which employees feel safe voicing their honest opinions. This kind of two-way feedback loop is a core component in manager-employee trust.
Learn More About Building a Culture Based on Trust
Trust is paramount for any kind of healthy and effective workplace relationship. We’d love to tell you more about ways to create a culture of trust. Schedule your complimentary call with WhiteWater Consulting today.