- April 11, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
A recent article, Eight Mistakes Leaders Make That Kill Employee Trust, briefly discussed different management shortcomings and problems that we may unknowingly have or use, which can ruin employees’ respect for us. I wanted to address each of these mistakes and help you learn how to avoid them.
Trust will never occur on its own by virtue of the fact that people, by their very nature, are often skeptical of new things, new people, and new situations. You have to prove, once again, trustworthiness. You may get a honeymoon period in the beginning, but that doesn’t last very long, which means you have to start earning people’s trust from the very beginning.
You can start by doing three things: First, opening up and being vulnerable. Remember what I said last week about not hiding your weaknesses? You can show people that they can trust you by trusting them first.
Now I don’t mean sharing your deepest, darkest secrets. But rather, share your weakness or shortcoming. I’m not great with computers, so whenever I moved to a new position, I always told my staff that this was my big issue and that I would appreciate any help they could give me. By sharing that weakness, I showed that I trusted them to support me. And they trusted me as a result.
I recently told a story about how I dealt with a union when I was running a company in Cleveland. I told the union that if they didn’t work with us and make some concessions, I was going to have to move the entire division to an empty factory we owned in Illinois.
They didn’t believe me and refused to do anything, so a year later, we shuttered the division and moved to Illinois. When they saw we were serious, the unions reconsidered their previous refusal, but we already had everything in motion and it would have cost too much to undo it. So we moved.
After that, wherever I went, I had the reputation among the unions that I would always do what I said, and I was clear about saying what I would do. And whether people liked my news or not, they could always trust that I would follow through on whatever I said.
Third, always tell the truth, no matter how much it hurts. A variation on having integrity, telling the truth is another important factor in building trust. You have to tell the truth to the people working for you, no matter how much it hurts.
I also recently related the story about the time I took over an IT hardware manufacturer in Las Vegas. That company had just been bought and was not doing well. So when I took over as the general manager, one of the first things I did was to give a “state of the company” speech to explain what was going on.
I told them we weren’t doing well, that the company was on the verge of failing, and that we needed to make a lot of changes if we were going to have any hope of salvaging it. People certainly didn’t want to hear that news, but they appreciated that I told them. In fact, no one knew that the company was even failing so badly, although many of them suspected something was wrong.
The only people who didn’t like that I had told the truth were the executives who had brought the company to that point. But I knew that if we were going to have any chance at success, and if I was going to have any chance at earning everyone’s trust, I had to tell the truth about our status.
Bottom line: If you want to earn people’s trust, you have to be open and honest with them, whether it’s about your weaknesses, your intentions, or the situation you’re in. Trust won’t occur on its own, especially if you hide critical information from people.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Terry Johnston (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)