Managers in the workplace have multiple roles to play and continuously evolving responsibilities. They must instill a high-performance mindset in their employees while creating a culture the foundation of which promotes teamwork and competitiveness for the betterment of a healthier whole. Additionally, managers must touch the business and stay active; they must have just as strong of a pulse on the business (internally and externally) as those who are managing it on the front lines. Most importantly, managers must quickly earn trust from their colleagues to inspire team unity and collaboration that is centered on the fundamental principles of loyalty, communication, and transparency.
The best managers get this – no explanation required. They are proactive in addressing the needs of their teams. They go out of their way to be creative and find new ways to uniquely motivate each team member. They are always aware of moods, mindset, attitude and engagement levels. They know how to “take one for the team” and have the resilience to turn things around in times of duress and see and create rewarding new and different opportunities.
But in the end, none of these things matter without trust. Employees’ trust in and for their managers makes or breaks teams, their performance, and their developmental journeys within the organization they serve. A bad manager can make or break careers. Equally, if a manager is ineffective at earning trust, the lack of team performance will speak for itself and become increasingly apparent in turnover.
Simply put, managers can’t hide if they have trouble earning trust. Here are four things you must avoid doing in order to build trust quickly as a manager (or to help keep your manager on their game):
1. Fail to Build Rapport
Building rapport is no easy task. It requires you to be a great listener (not just a good one). Managers who are listening take good notes, are quick to follow through and are responsible enough to proactively address your immediate needs and requirements to help you be more successful. Effective managers also use rapport to engage with difficult personalities and situations. For example, early in my career, I learned a valuable lesson: people don’t like having a much younger boss. (I was the youngest senior executive in the history of Sunkist when I was hired. This is certainly something that is happening with millennials hired to lead older generations of workers.) Instead of viewing the people older than me merely as difficult people, I made it my responsibility to empower them and help them to be more successful. After they received their well-deserved recognition and bonuses, they quickly forgot about my age. If there was envy, it was converted into opportunity.
2. Ducking Out on Diplomacy
Learning how to be politically (and authentically) correct is a requirement these days. This means managers must always be mindful of doing the right thing – and at times making trade-offs in order to be given new opportunities and have greater influence down the road. Effective managers exercise good judgment and know how to pick and choose their battles. They are about supporting the team and believe in consensus-building methods to create harmony (especially when there are many egos involved). Strong managers recognize that perception is reality and thus will play the political game accordingly to protect their teams and mobilize their agendas.
3. Never Establish Credibility
Effective managers must establish their credibility (and I am not talking about past positions/previous titles). The most effective managers always follow up, are true to their word, have a proven track record and have a reputation of getting things done. The best managers earn respect through performance. Not only do they drive business results, but they also serve as mentors and sponsors who help teach others how to do the same. High-performance managers get their hands dirty and are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves. They get in the game and remain active – and then stay in it to win it. Strong managers also establish credibility by being consistent in their approaches and styles in how they operate, how they get results and how they build teams and relationships within the organization. Above all, they don’t have hidden agendas!
4. Engage in Conflict Resolution
Managers who solve problems with clarity are extremely effective. Effective managers empower others to make suggestions and recommendations. They are masters at conflict management and are eloquent in addressing problems and getting others involved to find immediate resolutions. These managers are methodical in how they break down conflict into manageable pieces. They view conflict as an opportunity to build new relationships and as a powerful learning moment to train their teams to manage conflict for themselves.
These four ways helped build my path and develop the next phase of my career as a leader and develop the strategies I used that define the innovation mentality, which requires people skills, the ability to inspire others and casting a vision that creates buy-in and drives growth by being authentic and genuine.