Improving trustworthiness helps managers succeed.

    February 26, 2016

    In a year of campaigns and promises, it's often the trustworthiness of a candidate that makes the final decision in voters' minds. For example, a candidate who’s exposed by the press as having appropriated public funding for his or her own private use instantly loses traction. At the same time, when old photographs surface that support another candidate’s previously disputed claim of having been active in the civil rights movement, that candidate suddenly gains significantly in the polls.

    Just like we want our nation’s leaders to be trustworthy, your employees want you, their manager, to be someone they can rely on. Your people need to know you have their best interests at heart and they can rely on you to provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs. Without this trust, your team will feel less engaged with the company—after all, people work for people, not for companies—and are less likely to go the extra mile in their jobs. Obviously, this will have a negative impact on your team’s productivity, as well as the quality of their work.

    So how can you improve your trustworthiness? Keep the following tips in mind.

    • Always make sure that what you say aligns with your actions. According to Nan S. Russell in the Psychology Today article “What Every Leader Should Know About Trust and Influence,” simply holding the title of manager isn’t going to result in your people trusting you. You have to consistently, day in, day out, demonstrate your trustworthiness in your actions. If you say you’ll provide an employee with a specific document for a report that’s due in an hour, send him or her the document immediately. If your team has experienced pushback from higher up on a project and you tell them you’ll stand up for them, do so. If you have to switch course and not do what you said, then explain your reasons clearly to your team.
    • Listen to your team. As Jayson DeMers points out in his Forbes article “7 Traits That Instantly Build Trust With Your Brand,” actively listening to your people helps build your trustworthiness. When your team feel they can confide in you and go to you with their concerns, that’s based on their belief that you care and will take action for them.
    • Be clear about your values. Butch Ward states in his Poynter article “Managers, does your staff trust you? Try building your campaign on these 8 ideas” that it’s imperative to be clear about your values. For example, if you say you value everyone’s input, then you should create opportunities for everyone to contribute their opinions. If you value thoroughness over speed, then don’t reprimand an employee for spending a lot of time on preparing an accurate and comprehensive report.
    • Be transparent. Especially during challenging times and times of upheaval in the company, your people will look to you to keep them informed. If they suspect there will be layoffs and their suspicions are correct, tell them what you can. If the company’s looking to move its headquarters to a new location, be open about it. Being transparent allows your employees to digest this kind of information and how it could impact them on their own time instead of anticipating the worst or not being prepared at all.
    • Give honest feedback. It’s never pleasant to receive negative feedback. Learn to package your feedback as constructive criticism and balance it with positive feedback. Even if an employee doesn’t want to hear he or she could do better, the truth is that most of us are perfectly aware we can improve, so failing to point out shortcomings will quickly create the impression you’re not being truthful.

    The easiest way to improve your trustworthiness is to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. By doing so and at the same time keeping the tips above in mind, you can quickly become a manager your people trust and respect.

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