7 Amazingly Simple Ways for Supervisors to Build Trust

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I don’t believe that “rah-rah” speeches motivate people.  In my experience, the more effective route is to hire people who are intrinsically motivated to do great work and then do everything possible not to de-motivate them.

Few things demotivate people faster than working with a supervisor they don’t trust.

Why is trust so important?  When you trust someone, you know they have your best interest at heart.  With your supervisor on your side, you are more confident when exploring new ideas and more open to trying riskier things with the potential for a greater return.

Here are seven behaviors you can work to develop in order to become a supervisor worthy of trust.

1. Underreact to negative stuff

If people trust you, they will tell you a lot more –  not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly.  Developing the ability to hear disheartening news without overacting is a surefire way to build trust and to ensure people are giving it to you straight.

2. Behave predictably

This means being consistent in every situation, no exceptions.  People watch what you do with others and know that you’ll treat them the same.

If they hear you venting about a coworker in another department who disagreed with your idea, they will envision themselves giving you constructive feedback and you angrily venting to your peers.

3. Carve out one-on-one time

Building trust requires building a relationship.  You can only do that through some one-on-one time.  Meet individually with each person regularly so you can get to know each other and their work on a personal level.

Supervisors juggle a lot of different aspects of their job at the same time, and there never seems to be enough minutes in the hours.  It’s understandable how a regular meeting time is hard to find.  But consider it an investment.

Spending regular face-time with employees will pay off when they share concerns instead of allowing all their concerns of complaints to build up inside and later explode. The best spot to be in is when you are able to catch misunderstandings before they compound, and when employees understand what you mean even if it isn’t exactly what you say.

4. Do what you say, quickly

Nothing breaks trust faster than saying you’ll do something and then failing to do it.  Make sure you clearly state when you are going to take care of solving a problem, or assume they expect you’ll leave the conversation and do it immediately.  If you don’t recalibrate expectations, they’ll think you let them down.

We’re all human, which means we make mistakes and sometimes forget about things we’re supposed to do. Just make sure your memory lapses are few and far between, and people will forgive you.

5. Be authentic

Speaking of being human, supervisors are just that.  They’re not perfect, and that actually makes them even more trustworthy as a leader.  It’s hard to relate to someone who makes no mistakes because we all know they expect everyone around them not to either. Be vulnerable by sharing your stories of missteps from the past – as well as the present.

6. Listen openly

The first step to being open is listening.  This requires talking less, focusing completely on the person speaking, and then asking questions to gain a full understanding.

As important as hearing and understanding others points of view is, it doesn’t build trust unless it’s followed by the willingness to try things the other person’s way.

Supervisors typically get to their positions because they are competent, confident, and willing to lead the way.  So, letting your idea take the backseat to someone else’s when you feel your idea is superior is a tough pill to swallow.

But when you give others more control of their work, you engage their minds, not just their hands.  When that happens, you both win and so does the organization.

7. Be transparent

Open communication flows both ways: letting in information from others and sharing information out to others.

Being transparent doesn’t mean that you tell all.  No one wants to hear the details of your recent medical exam.  It’s also inappropriate to share information about other people and confidential business plans.  You must use common sense.

But there is so much you can share that will give the people you work with deeper insight into who you are and, the industry, organization, and department direction that will enable your team to do their jobs easier or better.  Share whatever you are able to, and explain when you can’t.

Good Role Modeling

These trust boosting behaviors will not only strengthen your relationship, but they will also provide a good model of your expectations regarding how your team members should treat each other, other colleagues, and you.

Now it’s Your Turn

Do you have experience with a supervisor who was able to build trust fast? Do you have other ideas on how to develop trust with others at work? Please share in the comment section below!

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If there are any topics that you’d like to read more about, please email me directly at jodi@people-mattershr.com.  I can’t respond to all emails, but I read every single one!

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People Matters provides support to business owners and leaders in all areas of human resources management including but not limited to the topic in this article: being a great supervisor.

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