Every time I ask this question when during leadership training the room looks at each other and there is a resounding, “yes!” I then follow the question up with, “Would you trust your team to run your department for a week while you were on vacation?” There is usually some hesitation, but most of the room agrees and says, “yes.” I ask the room one last question, “Would you trust your team if you were on leave for a month?” By the time I ask this question, there is a lot of hesitation. I go on to explain at this point that the hesitation on the last questions makes me wonder do you really trust your team.
What does trusting your team really mean?
Trusting your team goes much deeper than most leaders are willing admit. the majority of leaders define trusting your team as knowing that if I ask my team will get the job done. While that is part of it, the rest of it is knowing that even if I don’t ask my team will get the job done. I don’t mean just get it done, but get it done with excellence. It is about knowing that you have the right people on your team and you have inspired them to always perform their best. It is about trusting them unwaveringly to complete whatever task they have. Will you have bumps along the way, definately. However once you fully trust your team and they full trust you, then the sky is the limit.
The Trust pyramid
Trust is gained as we work up the trust pyramid. Trust starts with awareness. In business awareness comes from a clear mission and vision for your team. Once an awareness is gained then you build to understanding. Understanding is all about using your awareness to drive decisions collectively to work towards the same goals. As a leader you decide the direction, however your employees determine the path to go that direction. Belief in each other is the next level. As a leader you need to believe that your team can get the job done. Your team also needs to believe in you and the dirction for the team. The top of the trust pyramid is action. Action is about not being afraid to jump in and do what is needed without hesitation.
Awareness is all about a clear direction. One of the most important things you can do with your team is to develop a mission statement and vision. This will provide guidance for your team as they make decisions within your department. When your team is aware of what needs to happen they will guide thier decisions based on the direction you set
Understanding why you set specific goals and objectives for your team is important. If they know what the spcific target you set is and why you are working towards that target they will be able to guide decisions based on the teams goals and needs.
Believe in your teams ability to get the job done. Studies have shown that micromanaged teams are 30-40% less effective due to feeling of “lack of trust”. When you believe in your teams ability to get the job done and give them the opportunity to do so they will be more willing to go the extra mile for you. Of course, in order to keep a pulse on your business it is important to maintain status updates as a project moves forward. Asking for status updates for reasonable milestones in a project will not come across as micro managing.
The top of the pyramid is action. Action is simple, lead by example and never be afraid to jump in where needed. As a leader there is no work that should ever be viewed as beneath you. If your team does it so should you. When items arise you should be ready to take action and resolve them or jump in and help until the team can take back over. Where leaders tend to fail in action is they take over a task because they do not like the way their employee is doing it, or they don’t trust their team to do it the right way in the first place. These negative actions can take down your entire trust pyramid.
It won’t happen over night!
Trust is something that is earned over time. While each team dynamic is going to be different, there will always be a period where trust is built. As a leader it is important to incorporate awarness, understanding, belief, and action as soon as possible within your team. Over time you will gain trust in your team and your team will gain trust in you.