Delegating Tasks Requires Building and Keeping Trust
You’ve likely encountered a situation where you’re unhappy with one of your team members. You’d like to delegate a task to them but are hesitating.
The employee may be likable 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, not wanting to delegate 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. How do you build trust on your team?
Consider the 3 Dimensions of Trust
Part of trusting someone is being familiar with their previous work. Trust is built on evidence and consistency.
In the case of your problem employee, think through specific examples of concerning behaviors. Consider the 3 dimensions of trust:
- 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 this person 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 be understood by every member of a team.
- 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 too that trust is a two-way street. You must be trustworthy yourself for your team members 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.
Talk About the Trust Issue
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 discuss a solution to the problem, such as pairing the worker up with a more experienced team member. Finally, set up a method for accountability.
Honest, open discussions about trust set the stage for deeper, more productive conversations about team performance and create stronger bonds between leaders and employees.
In our Leading Teams for Impact program, participants learn how build trusting relationships in their organizations.
You can also explore CCL’s guidebook, Leadership Trust: Build it, Keep it.