As a leader, you can have the best plan in the world for how your employees are going to meet, and even exceed, goals. You can navigate through all of the potential roadblocks and challenges to ensure that this triumph will take place. After all the effort and planning you invested into attacking your goals head on, you overlooked the most vital piece of the puzzle: having the trust of your employees.
Building a team that is creative, forward thinking and not afraid to make mistakes is crucial to the success of the company. All of this is very possible when you give your employees ample reason to trust you. Employees who feel comfortable coming to you when they are struggling without fear of being judged, trust you. When you propose trying something new and slightly “out of the box,” do your employees keep an open mind and a positive attitude about what you are proposing? If so, they are willing to take risks with and more importantly for you, because they trust you.
As evidenced by countless research on workplace performance and employee morale, a major way to earn the trust of your employees is to show that you are dependable, caring, consistent and competent. When you have a firm grasp on those four major components, you will have an unstoppable team that will make amazing things happen.
“Ability without dependability is a liability.” - Shiv Khera, Self-help author
Do your employees feel that when you promise something to them that you will always follow through to the absolute best of your abilities? Do they know that you will always “have their back” when they are dealing with an irate customer/member? Do your employees feel that you take your job and them seriously? If you could honestly answer “yes” to those questions, then you are a dependable leader.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” - Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Do you genuinely care about your employees’ well being and professional growth? How do you show them that you care? Do you actively listen to them when they talk to you? Do you suggest helpful tips and tricks when they are struggling? Do you take the time to give them meaningful compliments when they improve their skills and celebrate team successes? Do you share personal anecdotes, admit mistakes and show your human side? If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions, then your employees clearly see that you care about them.
“It’s so simple really: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.” - Epictetus, Greek philosopher
Do your employees know that you will regularly hold everyone accountable in a respectful and meaningful way? Do you stick with a strategy long enough to give it a fair chance of proving its effectiveness? Do you consistently provide your employees with pertinent information they need to know? If you can answer “yes” to each of these questions, then you have employees who feel secure in knowing that there is a solid routine in place.
“Being competent doesn’t mean that a leader knows how to do everything, but rather that they know what to do and how to get it done.” - Michael McKinney, leadership blogger
Can your employees rest easy knowing that if a workplace conflict arose, you would handle it quickly and proficiently? Do your employees clearly understand all schedules and processes? Do your employees clearly understand the goals of your organization/branch and how it translates into their individual performance goals? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” you are competent and your employees know it.
If you were unable to answer “yes” to a majority of these questions, then you should consider taking some time to think about your current leadership style and techniques and how they can be improved. Make a list of what you do on a regular basis and how you could potentially change what you’re doing to elicit more “yes” responses to the questions above. To dig down even deeper for more specific ways in which you can boost your positive responses, you can have employees fill out an anonymous survey about your leadership skills in these vital areas to help assess their trust level of you. This takes courage and MUST be anonymous so that you will receive totally honest feedback from your employees. You must also be willing to hear some tough news about yourself and your leadership style, embrace the feedback and clearly exhibit positive changes for your employees to see that their input is valuable.
If you were able to answer “yes” to the majority of the questions, you are most likely a very trustworthy leader in the eyes of your employees. It probably isn’t out of the norm that employees will go above and beyond for you and take it personally when they fall short of your expectations and feel that they let you down. Your employees are working in an environment where mistakes are okay and new ideas and positive growth is commonplace. Success only sticks around when you keep working at it and by never growing complacent, that is why it is a good idea to survey your staff to ensure that you are still doing a great in the four major areas to maintain their trust and loyalty.
A complete leader is one who not only assesses his/her employees, but also takes an honest look at himself/herself as well. When you are able to do so with an open mind, it will awaken you to amazing possibilities for your organization, yourself, your employees and customers/members. Don’t ever underestimate the power of being trusted by your employees. Where there’s trust, there is desire to excel, open mindedness to new strategies and loyalty that will ultimately trickle down to customers/members and the organization’s balance sheet!
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