Effective managers establish and encourage positive relationships with employees by trusting their judgement and abilities. Yet many managers, more often than they realize, don’t trust their trainers to make decisions on their own. They like having control of the lid to the cookie jar. Do you seek input from your staff when you’re making major decisions? Are you committed and consistent in your leadership? Do you allow your team members to solve problems and use their own judgment when they’re dealing with customers? Here are a few suggestions for building a trust-based relationship with your team members.
Ask for input from your trainers
Show your trainers that you’re genuinely open to their ideas and use them whenever you can. Ask for their feedback when you’re making major decisions. So what if their feedback won’t make an impact on the decision? It doesn’t matter! What counts is that you’re communicating with them and showing interest in their concerns and feelings about the situation. Listen to what your trainers have to say and respond to them. Let them know where you stand in the situation and how much influence you have in the decision-making process. If you don’t know the answers to their questions, tell them you’ll find the answers, then follow up and follow through.
Follow through with commitments and be consistent
Trust depends on credibility of actions, including doing what you say you’re going to do and being consistent with your policies. If you tell your trainers you’re going to get the answer to a question, become more flexible with the training schedule, make changes to the department structure, whatever—they expect you to follow through. In the past, I’ve experienced the “things are going to change” scenario, but things didn’t change, causing a lack of faith in the manager’s commitment to the team. The goal is to build a team that trusts you and knows that you’re going to follow through with your commitments as their leader.
Talk about consistency! Ever had a manager who had “favorites”? I’ve seen them and had them before. I’ve even had to deal with trainers on my former team who felt they were caught in the spider’s web and not given “all the opportunities.” What about the trainer who is always late for a training class but never seems to get reprimanded? Your training team members see this treatment and they probably talk about it at lunch, too! You should always be consistent in how you enforce your policies. Of course, there should be some room for leniency, but your decisions should be documented and justifiable.
Support their decisions
Are you unwilling to let go of your authority from time to time? Do your trainers have the flexibility to make decisions on their own, or do you always intervene? Giving others the responsibility and the accountability for daily decisions shows them that you trust them, and it increases efficiency, morale, and customer satisfaction. People like to have the freedom to make decisions without a lot of handholding or back-seat driving. Granted, there are some trainers who can’t even make the decision to go to the bathroom without someone telling them it’s okay—but there aren’t as many as you think. Sometimes, allowing your trainers to throw in a “little extra something” to sell the customer on your services can increase business and enhance customer loyalty. We’re not talking about giving away the store, but merely selling the customer on your services.
When your trainers do make a judgment call you disagree with, don’t blow your top. Trusting your employees can be very difficult! But let them explain why they made the decision. They may have been going by the rules. Even if they receive a complaint you can’t justify, discuss the issue thoroughly so they’ll know what to do the next time the situation occurs. Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
You have to support and encourage an atmosphere of trust, because it’s key to building success for your team and your company. Trust is one of the building blocks of success—it’s part of the foundation.
What situations have you experienced where you needed to build a better foundation of trust with your team? Do you and your staff trust each other and bond as a team? If you’d like to share your story or comment on this article, follow this link.