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Build Trust with Your Supervisor and Your Employees

Team of people holding a fragile plant Whether you are a new or seasoned manager, building trust with your employees and your supervisor is critical to your ability to get things done. Some people in every organization have clout. Clout can be defined as the ability to influence others to get things done. Others in organizations do not have this same ability. Why? The answer may boil down to the level of trust others have in you and your ability to get things done.

The following are seven suggestions that will help you build trust with your supervisor and your employees:

  1. Do what you say you are going to do.
    This suggestion probably offers you the fastest path to trustworthiness. Do you do what you say you are going to do? If you tell someone you are going to do something, write it down so you don’t forget and then do it. If you tell someone else to do something for you, write it down so you don’t forget and then check up with them to ensure its completion.

  2. Go beyond the conventional relationship.
    As a manager, you are expected to fulfill certain functions. Completing a performance appraisal is one of those functions. Passing around a birthday card and having everyone in the department sign it is not one of those functions. So when you do something extra like acknowledging an employee’s special day, it is going beyond the conventional relationship.

  3. Practice the concept of “no surprises.”
    As a wife once said to her husband, “If you are going to surprise me, put it in a small jewelry box.” As this remark implies, most surprises you receive are negative. Examples at work might include: An employee does not solve a customer’s problem, creating a complaint which filters up to your level; top management changes policy or procedure, but does not inform your department of the changes; or you believed you were going to be given a promotion, only to find out that someone else received the job. The more you can eliminate negative surprises from relationships with your supervisor and your employees, the stronger the bonds of trust you will build. One of the best ways to eliminate negative surprises is through communication.

  4. Communicate…Communicate…Communicate.
    One way to quickly build trust is to improve your communication. The more open and honest your communication, the more trust you will have in your relationships. The frequency of your communication with your supervisor and your employees should not be underestimated. The more frequently you communicate with someone, the more opportunities you have to build trust.

  5. Determine expectation.
    Clear expectations are critical to building trust. The more clear you are about what others expect from you, and what you expect from others, the easier you will find it to build trust.

  6. Be honest.
    Everyone agrees that being honest helps build trust. What we want to emphasize here is the power of being honest…especially when it costs you something to be truthful. For example, if you were to go to your employees and tell them there was going to be a layoff in two months, the chances are your employees will not be happy with you or your news. Because you did not have to tell your employees of the impending layoff prior to the layoff actually happening, you gain trust for being honest. A second example is seeing someone unknowingly drop a $100 bill. You call attention to the lost bill and return it to the person. The chances are this person will perceive you as honest and be willing to trust you. The times when we gain the most trust is when it actually costs us something to be honest.

  7. Care about your supervisor’s and your employee’s personal and professional success.
    When your supervisor and your employees know that you really care about their personal and professional success, and your actions demonstrate this case, they will find you easier to trust.

Building trust is not difficult, but it takes time. There may be instant pudding and instant tea; there is no such thing as instant trust. But, if you do what you say you’re going to do; do even more than is expected; openly communicate often; practice the concept of “no surprises;” be honest, even when it costs you something to be honest; and really care about an individual’s personal and professional success, you will find it easier to build relationships based on trust.

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