For all managers, deep, two-way trust with your team is essential to effective collaboration and productivity. In a virtual setting, it’s important to be especially mindful of how you deliberately build and maintain trust with team members you don’t see in person on a daily basis.
Here are some tips to help you cultivate a deep trust culture, especially during times of uncertainty:
- Clarify roles and responsibilities. Team dynamics may have shifted a bit, with the transition to virtual work. Ensure that team members know which of their peers they can turn to with specific questions and consider delegating responsibilities that can be managed without your direct input. Delegating tasks to your team and trusting them to follow through serves two important purposes: it will curb any tendency you have to micromanage and free up valuable time so you can avoid becoming a bottleneck for productivity.
- Lead from the trenches, if needed. While you don’t want to micromanage, your team may need to see you a bit more visibly “in the work” with them as they navigate through periods of change. Try to lean into opportunities to actively support your team members in a more hands-on way than you may typically need to. Usually, you’ll find they’ll get back to executing with increased initiative and confidence as you all adjust.
- Demonstrate understanding and compassion. During times of change and uncertainty, keeping your humanity on full display can go a long way when it comes to building trust. People remember how you treat them during difficult times, and ample levels of empathy are needed now more than ever.
- Practice deep listening. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood is a time-worn adage, but it especially holds true now. Allow your team to share their concerns, triumphs, and fears — and practice listening without judgment or critique. When people know they have been heard, they feel seen and validated — all building blocks of deep trust.
- Encourage self-care. Many managers worry that their team will be less productive while working from home. In reality, most employees spend too much time at their desks when working remotely, out of fear they are not being visible enough, and it actually hinders productivity and engagement. Encourage your team to take time to stretch and move around, and to block their calendars for lunch breaks, dog walks, and other restorative activities.
- Keep vision and purpose top of mind. Remind your team how their contributions fit into the larger company purpose and vision. And, don’t forget to cascade messages from company leadership to the rest of your team to maintain transparency and instill confidence about your organization’s future.
- Above all, communicate regularly, candidly and consistently, and invite your team members to do the same. Provide honest feedback and encourage your team to share their feedback with you. Open, honest dialogue, frequent recognition and ongoing check-ins are essential to keep the team motivated and engaged.