4 Behaviours that build trust

Posted on October 28, 2019 · Posted in blog, News

I could give you a very long spiel on how building trust is the first crucial building block in any relationship – especially one that’s supposed to last a long time and, stand fast in times of turbulence, managing differences in culture, competence, worldview and personality… But you already know that.

Yet, not often does one consider “building trust” as one of the first most important steps when someone is promoted to a management position.

Or if it does come up, it is about “would people trust her skills enough to respect her decisions and follow her lead”.

But, to build trust is not always that straightforward.

Here are the 4 key ways in which managers can build trust with their teams:

1. Demonstrate Maturity

This is simply about taking responsibility for decisions – especially for mistakes. Instead of hiding a faux pas, step forward and claim responsibility and be clear on how you would do it differently next time.

The message you are sending is: Nobody is perfect. We all err. The key to being great is actually in having the courage to admit mistakes and learn. There’s another much-loved word for this: Accountability. Your own.

2. Keep Your Word

If you promise to do something, move heaven and earth to make it happen, and if you cannot – read no. 1 again – and learn to underpromise and over-deliver.

The message you are sending is: You can trust my word. That’s a lot.

3. Acknowledge When People Do Good Things

You may have heard that we should all be more positive and generous in complimenting others. If you want to know what the best ratio is between positive and negative feedback for teams, this is a great article to read. People respond well when they are acknowledged. When they are appreciated. So, pay a true compliment by saying “thank you” often, and by giving praise when it is due, even for very small and obvious achievements.

The message here is: I see you, I appreciate your efforts and respect what you are doing.

4. Be The Manager You Aspire to Be: Lead By Example

Modelling behaviour is more powerful than the words you say. Words are easy and cheap. Deeds require much more of a consistent effort. It is good to remember that in parenting, but it is equally crucial in management. People will do what you do, not what you say. If you don’t want gossip and politicking, don’t gossip and don’t start politicking; if you don’t want slack behaviour, don’t cut corners and disappear for hours on end with no reasonable explanation.

The message sent here is: I am a person of integrity. I align what I do with what I say and I don’t ask from you what I do not subscribe to myself.

There is more, but as our aim is to simplify, we believe that adhering to these seemingly simple – but not-so-easy to maintain – principles consistently is going to make you a great manager.

Stephen Covey, for example, nominated 13:

4 Behaviours that build trust - graphic

You can also use this great questionnaire to help you keep on the right path. Take it, it’s free and you can repeat this every few months to see how you progress.*


* I should disclose that Alex and I are proud to be amongst the first South African coaches to work with Ken Blanchard Companies.