Building trust seems like a fluffy concept, but as any leader knows, without it, people won’t think for themselves, and teamwork quickly evaporates. Here are some easy things you can do to constantly build trust in your team.
The brain’s reward pathways light up when we feel valued, when we feel like we belong, and when we feel like we can trust other people. When we get the opposite messages (undervalued, alienated and suspicious) we get the opposite result - the brain’s pain pathways are activated. These are the same pain pathways that light up when we feel physical pain. There is some great research out of UCLA listed here
When our reward pathway lights up, we think more effectively, we are proactive and we tend to be way more productive. Think about it - if something painful is happening, you tend to be distracted, risk-averse and reactive.
One of the greatest ways that we can light up the reward pathway is to let people feel like they can trust us and each other.
Two Simple Ways to Build Trust
1) Delegate More
Yep - as crazy as this sounds, delegating more to your staff actually builds trust. When you don’t delegate enough, it says that you don’t trust people to do a good job, or hit their deadlines, or you don’t think they are capable. But the more you delegate, the more people feel valued and feel that they are trusted.
Oh yeah - did I mention that it will actually free up your time as well?
2) Listen To and Act On Feedback
If you ask for feedback, do something with it. This might be feedback about you directly and your performance, or it might be feedback about work, a project, or a process. It doesn’t matter what it is, do something about it. Either change something, or at the very least, let people know you explored the option but you can’t do it for whatever reason.
What’s even more important to pay attention to, is that you advertise that you listened. If you try something that was suggested, you have to make it visible - either by directly showing people or just making the connection between what’s changed and what was suggested.
There is nothing worse than a manager that says they want your opinion but then doesn’t do anything with it. It literally says to people: “hey, I’m going to ask your opinion because I think I’m supposed to, but I have no intention of actually listening to you, because I think you’re worthless.”
These seem like small things, but if you do them consistently, then you can build huge amounts of trust with your team very quickly. And the key work there is consistently. Inconsistency shows people that you can’t be trusted to keep a good thing going.