You’ve likely encountered a situation where you’re unhappy with one of your team members.
The employee may be likeable and even work hard, but the work has problems. Now, you’re wondering if he or she can handle an important project.
At its core, it’s is an issue of trust. Can you trust this individual to get the job done?
Whether you’re dealing with an individual or an entire team, knowing how to build and keep trust is crucial to effective leadership.
1. Break It Down
Part of trusting someone is being familiar with his or her previous work. Trust is built on evidence and consistency.
In the case of your problem employee, think through specific examples of this person’s behavior with which you’re unhappy. Consider:
- Ability. Does this person have the skills and tools needed to do the job? Maybe your problem employee needs skill-specific training or certain resources to perform better.
- Integrity. Does he or she share the same values and expectations for this project as you do? Managers must be clear about their expectations and make sure employees understand those before a project begins. Along those same lines, team values must also be understood by every member of a team if it is to function well.
- Loyalty. Based on previous encounters, can the employee confide in you when conflicts arise? Managers need to show that they care enough to understand and appreciate important concerns.
Remember that trust is a two-way street. You must be trustworthy for employees to feel comfortable committing to the team and the project.
If you’re sure that you’ve behaved in a trustworthy fashion, then you can have a candid, productive conversation about your team member’s behaviors.
2. Talk It Through
Once you understand the dimensions of the problem, it’s easier to have an honest conversation with a team member or colleague. Here are some phrases that help start the conversation out in a productive way:
- “I’d like to talk about something that’s concerning me.”
- “May we talk about your work on the project?”
- “I need to explore with you where we are on the project.”
It’s important to address problem behaviors in a way that shows the employee genuine support – demonstrating your loyalty. Then, you can both discuss a solution to the problem – for example, pairing the worker up with a more experienced team member – and set up a method for accountability.
Open discussions between managers and employees about trust set the stage for deeper, more productive conversations about team performance. They also create stronger bonds between leaders and employees.
Want to learn more? See CCL’s new guidebook, Leadership Trust: Build it, Keep it by Christopher Evans.