Trust As A Management Skill
Trust is something that is not a given – it has to be earned and in management that can be a difficult task at times.
Where projects and outcomes have to be delivered people need to trust the leadership, and leadership needs to trust their people. Trust is earned from deliverable outcomes – did I do what I said I would do and have I delivered what I said I would?
Asking for the trust of others is often a waste of oxygen – where initially people trust you and take you on your word this can only be a “one-time” offer. Trust is easily lost here and initial trust and faith in someone is always going to be short-term and with a very short life.
If you lose trust, then this can only be repaired and re-established then you have to rebuild that relationship over time with a series of actions.
The central ingredients for trust are Care, Communication, Competence, and Consistency.
- Demonstration of Care. If people do not believe that you care about them, their outcomes, or their circumstances, it is very difficult to build trust. This is wrapped up in individual people’s ethical standards where care towards each other is found. Demonstrating care can be both functional or operational but to the recipient, the experience is identical, whether your motivation is ethical or functional. Put plainly, your actions speak louder than your intentions.
- Communication provides context. People will draw conclusions based on their experiences, whether you want them to or not. The question is, do they have all the information they need to draw an accurate conclusion? If you do not communicate effectively and thoroughly, those information gaps will be filled in with uncertainty, doubt, and fear.
Part of building trust through communication includes feedback behind bad news. Whether it is an evaluation or a rejection of an idea, people need to hear the “why” behind those decisions. They may not like the decision, but if you effectively communicate, then they can at least trust that you did not withhold information. It is important to be able to trust someone, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Competency delivers on the promise. This goes both ways. When a leader promises something, people must believe that the leader is competent enough to deliver on that promise. If it sounds good, but a leader cannot deliver the result, then what will someone expect the next time?
This also works in the other direction. For a leader to empower their team, they must believe that the team has the competence to deliver on what they were empowered to do. If the team lacks the competence, then the leader’s behaviours will reflect that, and trust will deteriorate.
- Be Consistent. The final factor is that all of the above must be done with consistency. If, for example, you demonstrate care sometimes, and disregard it other times, then all of your good intentions will be for nothing. Trust is built through consistency in fulfilling your promise.
The best method for developing your consistency is to build these 4Cs into your systems of work, both personally and organisationally.
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