Just Trust Me…

In anticipation of writing this blog post, I recently asked a question on my Facebook page: "What do leaders and managers do to cultivate a work environment of trust? What is successful, and what is not?" Overwhelmingly, the answer was this: "I want my supervisor to trust me."

Ahhh....trust. It seems as if it should be so simple. Employees want to be trusted and respected for their work. Team members believe that their passion for their job, their work ethic, efforts and experience in their specific area should be recognized and rewarded. How? With autonomy, empowerment and open communication. These intelligent, dedicated professionals all agree - trust should be a normal part of the work culture. The question is, how do we accomplish this?

Employees want to be lead, not micromanaged.

Stephen Dahnke, an auditor, says this: "Set expectations for job assignments and follow up. Don't micromanage. This lets people have the freedom to do assigned tasks but holds them accountable for results...it also fosters mentoring in any work relationship."

Your dedicated team members respect leaders who respect their talents and abilities. They also appreciate a mentoring relationship, which fosters the opportunity for continued professional growth. Adds Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, "Leaders build trust by empowering their team with knowledge."

Team members want to be - and should be - heard.

Shay Bowls, a leader in the hospitality industry, emphasizes this point: "Show your employees that you value their opinion and take it into consideration...their ideas may be fresher and better than that of the top brass." Alex Hardesty, paralegal and community advocate sums this up by saying, "Good managers know what they don't know, what their teams do know; they know when to educate and when to listen."

In order to be trusted, leaders must first be trustworthy.

Authentic leaders inherently know that it is our actions, not our titles, which make us leaders. Susan Corey, Manager of SEMCA MI Works!, puts this into perspective. "The manager has to act trustworthy. Allow staff to do their jobs. Let others know how important these folks are! Praise is always wonderful."

A supervisor can attempt to rally his team at meetings and paste motivational posters throughout the office, but the words must underscore the actions. If we expect our teams to listen to us, we must show them that the respect is returned. Smart leaders listen more, talk less and gives credit where it is due.

Trust is a two-way street.

Successful relationships involve all parties equally. With this in mind, I took the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with my own supervisor, Pamela Bellaver of the Ferndale Career Center. I took a different spin on the question and asked her what team members can do to cultivate trusting relationships between leaders and employees.  Her answer was simple, authentic and very much worth discussing. Pam says, "Trust comes from history, time, honest communication and consistency. Keep your managers in the loop and ask their opinions - they may have the insights you need. As a leader, I know that I learn something every day because I am surrounded by the experts that make up my team."

There is something important employees must keep in mind - the leader is responsible for the department, the organization, the contractors, customers and the staff. Leaders are held accountable to their leaders, boards, the public interest, the stockholders. Pam respects the leaders on her team who understand these layers and take the time to consider the different perspectives and responsibilities as we work to accomplish our shared vision.

Some points to ponder: As employees, what are our responsibilities in cultivating the environment we will thrive in? How do we support our leaders? And as leaders, how do we dismantle fear and create an autonomous, accountable workplace where our teams thrive in their areas of expertise? In this changing culture that is leadership; how do we plan to get from here to there?