Are you enabling people to trust you?


Working with managers at different levels and in many industries, I consistently get asked various questions on how to manage better. One that surfaces most often, especially in large organisations is “How can I trust my team to do the job in the way it needs to be done?”

Of course the answer is always “it depends” after all there are many variables at play. To better answer the question, perhaps it is more valuable to understand what the question implies. This question assumes that there is a right way and a wrong way to do the job. The question also assumes that everyone in the team has the same level of skills and experience. If we dig deep, the question also assumes that everyone in the team has the same level of confidence in performing the job.

When managers ask this question, they are in truth trying to look for someone to execute the task with the same competence and confidence they have in performing it.

Trust is fundamentally about dependability and predictability. Can I rely on my employee to do this job the way I would?

The consequences of this attitude causes managers to consistently rely on the same people to perform the critical tasks again and again and by doing so they find themselves subject to a number of by-products.

The usual suspect generally becomes overwhelmed and overworked but also becomes very capable and experienced and often finds the confidence to get promoted away from the team or leave to seek better employment conditions elsewhere.

Those that are seldom trusted with critical tasks become disengaged, demotivated and even loose confidence to a point they might not even take the risk to look for a job elsewhere.

Ultimately, these managers find themselves having to perform all the critical task themselves, don’t have time to develop new people and become frustrated with  having to deal with poor performers.

The solution to this dilemma has been around for a long time and many experts have developed several models to explain how to manage people development effectively.

The late Peter Drucker’s definition of the role of managing is “Achieving results through people”  this means that people are the critical resource to get things done. People are the most important tool a manager must use to execute a plan and deliver high performance results.

Of course for a tool to be effective, it is important to know what it does, how to use it and more importantly how to maintain it in good working order. So if we make this analogy to manage people effectively in the pursuit of high performance a manager has 3 critical jobs to perform:

  1. The first job of an effective manager should be to get to know the people in their teams, their strengths and abilities, their passions and motivators, their attitude and preferences. This first step will help a manager understand who in the team is best suited to perform which task.
  2. The second most important job of an effective manager should be to facilitate the people in the team to know each other and recognise the strengths and abilities each individual brings to the team. In this way everyone in the team knows who to rely on  for help and support to resolve problems and collaborate effectively.
  3. The third most important job of an effective manager should be to formulate a plan that place the relevant talent and skills to work on the tasks and roles that will deliver the required outcomes. While doing so it is also important for a manager to set the appropriate level of expectations that stretch an individual’s abilities without straining them. In doing so, a manager should also provide each individual with the opportunity to develop and grow at an appropriate pace.

Things don’t get done if people don’t do them. The best way to develop trust in the people you manage is to help them develop their strengths, confidence and motivation, along the way they will also grow to trust you.

Reposted from IMI Blog with permission.


Fabio Grassi is Executive Learning Director at IMI. He is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation. His approach involves the facilitation of tailored workshops aimed at the achievement of specific business outcomes. He is passionate about the development of ethical leadership through executive coaching. For details of the IMI Diploma programmes available through ManagementWorks, visit our programme page.