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Regaining Trust - Par Deux

In the July 5, 2010 Coach's Corner we talked about the key elements of regaining the trust of those we lead. Doing so is vitally important to leaders for without trust there is rarely any leadership. After all, how many of us want to follow a leader we don't trust?

Let's expand this notion a bit with the following additional elements that leaders must pay close attention to as they regain the trust of their staff.

Step 1: Leaders and Managers, Know Thyself: It is said that organizations don't build trust, managers do. Which is why the equally true aphorism states that people join organizations and leave managers. Self assessment is the hardest thing in the world to do well because we are so invested in ourselves. So seek out more objective, outside feedback. Multi-rater 360 instruments can be an excellent development tool when used properly and administered well (meaning the real work begins after the results are in). Having a neutral facilitator interview your staff to seek feedback works well too. The point is to get the feedback, process it (which can be tough to handle if the feedback is harsh), and then implement a strategy to act in good faith on the salient points from the feedback.

Step 2: Match behavior to intentions: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. If you state your intentions to change things about your leadership style based on this feedback, but your behaviors don't match those intentions, you have just proven once again how untrustworthy you are. Make no mistake about it: adapting your style to act in ways that do not come naturally to you is a very challenging proposition. Seek out and get the support you need to make this happen.

Step 3: Help employees see themselves in the organization's future: First and foremost, employees want to know what is expected of them. It is the leader's job to clearly define those expectations. And those specific expectations need to be couched in the larger vision of the department or company. Where do I fit into the bigger strategy? Answering this question for employees creates value and meaning. And this notion of where staff fit in the greater scheme of things must be repeated often and with the passion the leader feels toward that larger vision. After all, if you are not talking about that envisioned future, why would you think your employees are? It is up to you to create and maintain context.

Step 4: Make a commitment to employee development-for all employees: Let's let go of Employee of the Month programs and truly commit to employee development as a mainstay of employee recognition. If people are our most important asset, then developing them is crucial to keep them growing, enhancing skill sets, grooming them for advancement, and letting them know that they are so important that the organization is continually investing in them.

All of these very visible steps can make a world of difference as your build the trust of those you lead.





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