Managers in the workplace have a unique role to play with multiple and continuously evolving responsibilities. They must instill a high-performance mindset while creating a culture whose foundation promotes teamwork and competitiveness for the betterment of a healthier whole. Additionally, managers must touch the business and stay active. More than ever managers must have just as strong of a pulse on the business (internally and externally) as those who are managing it on the front lines. Most importantly, managers must quickly earn trust from their colleagues to inspire team unity and collaboration that is centered on the fundamental principles of loyalty, communication and transparency.
The best managers get it: no explanation required. They are proactive in addressing the needs of their team. They go out of their way to be creative and find new ways to uniquely motivate each member of the team. They are always aware of moods, mindset, attitude, and engagement levels. The best managers are the ones who “take one for the team” and can quickly turn around times of duress into rewarding opportunities.
But in the end, it is the level of trust you have with your manager that makes or breaks the team, your performance and the developmental journey within the organization you serve. A bad manager can make or break your career. Equally, if a manager is ineffective at earning trust – the lack of team performance will speak for itself and turnover will become increasingly apparent. You can’t hide if you are an ineffective manager who has trouble earning trust.
Here are five ways to help you build trust quickly as a manager (or to help keep your manager on their game):
1. Build Rapport
Building rapport is no easy task. It requires you to be a great listener (not just a good one). Managers who are listening take good notes, are quick to follow through, and are responsible enough to proactively address your immediate needs and requirements to help you be more successful.
Effective managers are also good at engaging with difficult personalities and situations. For example, early in my career, I learned a valuable lesson: people don’t like having a much younger boss. Instead of viewing them merely as difficult people, I made it my responsibility to empower them and help them to be more successful. After they received their well-deserved recognition and bonuses, they quickly forgot about my age. If there was envy, it was converted into opportunity.
2. Take a Diplomatic Approach
Learning how to be politically (and authentically) correct is a requirement. This means a manager must always be mindful of doing the right thing – and at times making trade-offs in order to be given new opportunities and have greater influence down the road.
An effective manager exercises good judgment and knows how to pick and choose his battles. He is all about supporting the team and believes in consensus-building methods to create harmony (especially when there are many egos involved). Strong managers recognize that perception is reality and thus will play the political game accordingly to protect his team and mobilize their agenda.
3. Establish Credibility
Effective managers must establish their credibility (and I am not talking about past positions/previous titles). The most effective managers always follow-up, are true to their word, have a proven track record, and have a reputation of getting things done.
The best managers earn respect through performance. Not only do they drive business results, but they serve as mentors and sponsors who help teach others how to do the same. High-performance managers get their hands dirty and are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves. They get in the game and remain active – they stay in it to win it. Strong managers are also consistent in their approach and style: how they operate, how they get results, and how they build teams and relationships within the organization. Above all, they don’t have hidden agendas!
4. Engage in Conflict Resolution
Managers who solve problems with clarity are extremely effective. Effective managers empower others to make suggestions and recommendations. They are masters at conflict management and are eloquent in addressing problems and getting others involved to find immediate resolution.
Managers like this are methodical in how they break down conflict into manageable pieces.. They view conflict as an opportunity to build new relationships and as a powerful learning moment to train their team(s) to manage conflict for themselves.
5. Be a Strong Communicator
This is the most important and effective way for managers to earn trust quickly: be a strong communicator. I remember when I was a young manager; I always took the time to communicate across all levels of the organization; to get to know everyone directly and indirectly involved with my business unit (those who could potentially influence outcomes and decisions). This extra step always made it easier for me to communicate needs for my team and allowed my team to more effectively communicate with the key players in the organization. Because my credibility had been earned, it helped my team learn to trust me (knowing that I ultimately had their best interests in mind).
Communication helps break down departmental silos and creates interdependency between people – thus building strong workplace alliances. It improves relationships and creates an effective groupthink environment that further promotes teamwork and consensus.
These five ways helped build my path and develop the next phase of my career as a leader. This is why the best leaders must be effective managers. It requires people skills, the ability to inspire others, and casting a vision that creates buy-in and drives results by being authentic and genuine.