Trust, at a workplace, plays a crucial role in establishing a strong relationship between an employer and their employee. Trust builds the key foundations of loyalty and productivity for employees.
When you as an employer display that you trust in the abilities of your teams, they, in turn, feel valued. This helps upkeep the motivation to excel and morale to drive them.
Trust plays an even bigger role when it comes to managing and working with remote teams. The traditional method of working together in a physical office space has built-in certain practices, which don’t necessarily translate well when dealing with remote teams.
One of the first, and fairly obvious, question that creeps into any management’s mind is if they can trust their employees to do their job and be accountable for their work in a remote setting. And employees are probably thinking of how they can show that they’re getting things done.
Trust, as they say, is a two-way street. Employers need to be able to trust that they have hired smart talent who are responsible and can take ownership of their work. Employees need to uphold the trust placed in them by being accountable and ensuring they maintain their productivity.
Seeing how trust is a key element of building stellar remote teams, here are ways you can build trust as an organizational mechanism – and use that to drive your business growth.
Let the past guide the future
Outside of sounding like a clichéd line from a movie, what this means is to use the past performance of your employees as a measure of how they will function in a remote setting. There is no reason to suspect that someone who gets their job done and delivers results consistently will suddenly stop doing so when transitioned to remote.
Remember, remote work is just a change in a workplace setting, not the mindset or abilities of your teams. Take time to understand each team and team member’s contributions and how they’ve fared so far. If you feel there are some whom you cannot yet fully trust, figure out what your specific concerns are and work with them to address those concerns. The act of just doing this will automatically build a stepping stone for trust.
Otherwise, you would end having to micromanage your employees, since the trust is missing. And we all know by now that does no good to anyone.
Trust is a journey, not a destination
Building trust with your employees starts from day one. Being in a new job, especially in a remote setting, is bound to make any employee a bit jittery.
Making sure to extend a proper welcome. Talking them through the different processes and protocols that are followed in the company is a good start. Let them know what your expectations are of them, and the framework you can provide to help them meet those set expectations week on week, month on month.
Take questions from your new employees. Assure them that they will get the appropriate response for any queries or concerns they might have. This helps them build confidence in the leadership, and be aware that they can look up to them for guidance when needed.
When there is a cause for concern, refrain from blaming the employee or the team. Instead, talk to them about it individually and figure out what is causing it. Always give them a chance to make amends and rectify a mistake they might have done. This shows that you are willing to look past a temporary transgression and trust them to recover from it.
Trust has to be repeatedly shown, from both the employer and the employee. It’s not something you can set just once and forget. You need to assure your teams regularly that you trust them to do their work, and give them enough of a leash to be able to do that. They in turn, by virtue of you placing your trust in them, will ensure that the trust is not misguided and deliver their best.
Embracing transparency is good for the business
There is no better way to build trust than to be transparent about everything. And this starts from the top and trickles down to all your employees. Managers should lead being transparent by example and this transparency must be among the top priorities.
Make sure to keep all your employees in the loop by giving them easy access to the information about the teams and the company. Things such as tasks assigned, their status, and progress of work should be fully available to view to every member of the team.
Complete transparency may sound counter-intuitive, but it can become one of your top ways to build the trust factor in your remote teams. This also ensures that all your teams and employees have clarity and are aligned on the company vision, goals, and policies.
It is important that no teammate feels left out, and feel that there are conversations being held behind closed doors. Or that they are being excluded from something. If it’s related to the team and their work, the discussion needs to be in public channel and not a private one. And where possible and appropriate, invite everyone within the team to contribute ideas and solutions to problems that another teammate might be facing. This will open the gates for cross-collaboration even wider.
Feedback should be focused on making them better
Feedback is an important part of not just building and maintaining trust, but also an organizational practice of improving efficiency. Feedback, when done right, helps the employees understand where they are doing well, and which areas they need to focus on for improvement.
But it’s key that the goal of the feedback should be to show your employees the path to getting better. It shouldn’t become an exercise of just pointing out what they are doing wrong. That will lead to them being demotivated and losing morale, not something you’d want, especially in a remote work environment.
If you are waiting until there is an actual problem to provide feedback, then you’re already too late. Build a process and habit of regularly giving constructive feedback on each of your team members’ areas of strengths, their accomplishments (both major and minor), and how they are performing. Reinforcing these will help them trust you more as a leader and also show that you are right in placing your trust in them.
But this doesn’t mean that you do not point out areas where they can improve. The goal is to do it a manner where the employee doesn’t feel attacked or targeted. Show that you know their individual talents, that you have taken note of their contributions and that you are willing to help in any way you can. Outright display that you want them to grow and succeed in their role. You will definitely build lasting trust through that.
A performance feedback process that is built thoughtfully is bound to cut down attrition as well. They are more loyal to you since you have explicitly expressed that you trust them and have laid out a path for them to excel in their jobs.
Operating on trust is the only way to build successful and efficient remote teams. Trust will enable your employees to fast-track their growth. It would also pave the way for their upward mobility within the organization. Showcasing trust will make sure that your remote employees feel confident in the idea of building their careers under your leadership and within your company.
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