Do you hover over your team like a hawk watching their every move? Perhaps it’s your way or the highway when it comes to undertaking projects? Although this type of behaviour may come from a place of wanting the best business outcomes, it may also signal a lack of trust.
Trust is everything in all aspects of life, but this is especially true in the workplace. For a boss, manager or team leader, employee trust is the foundation of healthy work relationships and a thriving business. If you don’t demonstrate trust in your team, they’ll feel undervalued and demotivated, potentially leading to an unpleasant work environment.
“Trust is like the air we breathe. When it is present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.”
Trust issue 1 - Micromanaging
Does delegating tasks feel impossible at times? Maybe you comb every detail of team members’ work, searching for errors? Or do you monitor all their calls or emails? Beware the curse of micromanaging. When leaders micromanage and exhibit excessive control, this is a red flag implying low employee trust.
If you find yourself slipping into any of these behaviours, it could be costing your company. Research shows that micromanaging is a business destroyer, leading to high employee turnover, decreased growth potential and reduced margins. Furthermore, micromanaging is among the top three reasons employees resign.
How to overcome micromanaging
Micromanaging can be a hard habit to break, so be patient with yourself and your team members as you work to make these changes. To start with, ensure that your team is capable and armed with the skills they need to get the job done – if not it may be time to invest in some training.
Trust your team members to handle tasks and responsibilities without your constant oversight by delegating tasks based on their individual strengths and abilities.
Communicate your expectations clearly and make sure your team members understand what is expected of them. Autonomy is key. Allow your employees to take ownership of their work and help them do this by providing them with the resources and support they need to accomplish tasks. You’ll be helping them develop their skills and feel more invested in their work.
Although you want to step back somewhat, do be present to provide constructive feedback to keep morale high and make your team members more confident in their abilities.
Trust issue 2 – Keeping the power of knowledge to yourself
Knowledge sharing – or lack of – is a huge indicator of a trust deficit, as is consciously excluding your team from making autonomous decisions. It could be that you feel your team is not equipped to handle certain information or take certain risks, that it’s not the right time, or on some subconscious level, you may fear losing your power or authority.
Whatever your reasons, when senior team members fail to share expertise, it has a huge productivity knock-on effect. A Panopto report revealed that employees waste 5.3 hours per week waiting for information, leaving 81% frustrated that they don’t have the necessary information to perform their jobs.
How to share information and include employees in decision-making
Trust works both ways. Sharing information with your employees and involving them in decision-making will foster an open and collaborative work environment which can help build trust. After all, knowledge is power, and you want your team to be empowered, not demoralised.
To start with, be transparent about team goals and targets and share anything that can support individual employee development or team outcomes. If you have vital information, avoid delaying it to prevent confusion, misinformation, or rumours. Of course, use your discretion. There may be times when sensitive or confidential information should not be shared.
Consider how you want to share information as well. Depending on its urgency, a face-to-face conversation, email, or a team meeting would be the most effective way to communicate the information.
Remember: your team will only feel part of a team if they’re involved in decision-making processes. By doing so, you’ll learn to trust them more and give them a sense of role ownership, which boosts engagement. In aspects of decision-making, ensure all stakeholders are involved and consulted, from team members to partners or clients. Define the scope of what needs to be decided upon and encourage participation by inviting stakeholders to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback.
Trust issue 3 – Blaming the team
When targets aren’t hit, or deadlines are missed, is your first thought to give your team feedback? Is a subsequent follow-up meeting or email fuelled by pure frustration a common occurrence? Playing the blame game not only suggests a lack of trust, it can also breed a toxic culture of resentment and defensiveness if left unchecked.
How to assign blame fairly
As a leader, apportioning blame fairly may often involve taking responsibility yourself. If your team doesn’t perform at their best, consider the role you played in it and demonstrate humility and accountability. Ask yourself: did you set goals clearly enough? Did you provide the right conditions for your team to thrive? Did you delegate tasks correctly? Did you give them the relevant information required to achieve the desired outcome?
A powerful way to build team trust and stop assigning blame for everything is to take inspiration from Etsy’s ‘Blameless Postmortems'. Throughout these meetings, the people involved in a situation come together to discuss what happened and craft a future plan. This enables all team members to learn from it, move on and improve without feeling unfairly dumped upon.
Above all, when failures or mistakes occur, focus less on the ‘who’ and more on the ‘what’. Use errors as an opportunity for growth by establishing what can be done to correct the situation. Adopting a solutions-driven mindset will prevent harmful finger-pointing when things go awry.
Trust issue 4 – Not seeking input
How often do you ask for team feedback? Do you frequently request creative ideas for new projects? When there is a wall between you and your team, and they don’t feel listened to – or indeed that you want to hear them at all – then they’ll feel underappreciated, undervalued and can become disengaged. And they are crying out to be heard: the 2019 Boss Barometer Report revealed that 83% of workers wanted their boss to ask for their input or opinion more often.
What’s more, if you don’t trust that they have the capabilities, innovative ideas and solutions needed to carry out their work, this doesn’t just affect their morale, it affects how your organisation performs. If you don’t seek team input, you could miss valuable insights and perspectives that could improve the organisation’s bottom line.
How to encourage team input
The key to encouraging team input is positioning yourself as a good listener who cares and will always make time for them. Having an open-door policy to your office where team members can always knock and have a chat will communicate that your ear is available.
Strict meeting agendas can be helpful, but they could hinder employees from speaking out for fear of derailing the meeting. Instead, consider creating a window of time or a specific brainstorming session with an organic, free-flow environment where ideas can be bounced around in abundance. When you welcome feedback and ideas from your employees, recognise and appreciate their contributions to show they’re valued and important to team success.
1 When a boss, employer or manager lacks trust in their team, employees will feel undervalued and demotivated, potentially leading to an unpleasant work environment.
2 One of the top three reasons employees resign is micromanaging leads to high employee turnover, decreased growth potential and reduced margins. Delegate tasks based on individual strengths and abilities, communicate expectations clearly and provide the resources and support needed to accomplish tasks.
3 Withholding information wastes 5.3 hours of employee time per week and hinders productivity. Be transparent about team goals and targets and promptly offer useful information. Involve all stakeholders in decision-making processes and invite them to share their ideas, concerns and feedback.
4 Blaming employees can breed a culture of resentment and defensiveness. Instead, show accountability as a leader, and when things go wrong, focus on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘who’ to find growth-driven solutions.
5 If team members are not given opportunities to share their ideas or are not listened to in general, they may feel underappreciated, undervalued and become disengaged. Create an open-door policy so they’re always welcome and make specific windows of time for free-flow discussions where everyone is encouraged to share thoughts and offer feedback.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.