5 Things Great Bosses do to Build Trust

The foundation of productive human relationships is trust.  Think about the people in your life whom you trust with absolute rigor.  If they asked you to do something, you would seldom even question it.  You certainly wouldn’t question their motivation.  Conversely, when the absence of trust is apparent within the relationship, everything is questioned.  And nothing gets done.

Great bosses understand this and therefore invest in building trust before building anything else.  I’ve studied and employed specific things to build trust with the teams that I have managed.  I’ve made mistakes and learned from those mistakes.  The fact is that it is much easier to build trust before a trusting relationship is necessary.  If it’s not already baked into the relationship when it’s needed, then it is very hard to create it.  So here are five things that I have done over the years to build trust with those I was responsible to lead.  I hope it helps you.

  1. Great bosses ask for advice – There’s something magical that happens when you ask for someone’s advice.  It relays respect, admiration and gratitude.  It creates an emotional connection and gains buy in.  Few sentences can have such a profound impact on creating trust.  So many people are told what to do every day.  By simply spending five minutes asking someone else’s opinion, they share in the challenge and more importantly the solution.    
  2. Great bosses practice give a task, take a task – Everyone has more work than can be done in a single day.  But assigning new tasks is part of growth and is critical to propelling the mission forward.  Taking the time with an employee to analyze the current workload and attempting to remove something in favor of something that has become more critical demonstrates a sense of caring about the team members’ well-being that cannot otherwise be stated.
  3. Great bosses learn to give constructive feedback, not constructive criticism – Remove the word "criticism" from your vocabulary.  Leaders don’t criticize – they teach.  The best bosses understand this and use feedback as a tool to help grow the individual and improve.  That investment in the individual, coming from a place of helpful nurturing and compassion, creates trust in every situation.
  4. Great bosses get to know team members on a personal level – It fascinates me how many bosses don’t know the spouses names of the employees they manage.  We are all human beings and taking the time to appreciate the life outside of work is why the individual comes to work is key to a successful work relationship.  Everyone has different needs and desires.  Understanding that on a personal level is key to understanding how someone is motivated.
  5. Great bosses foster competition externally and cooperation Internally – If you are in business, any type of business, you understand that competition is part of the daily routine.  Great bosses focus that competition externally.  That could be towards another company or that could be towards a company goal.  But it is never focused internally.  Focusing competition internally provides the opportunity for politics, infighting and all sorts of company destroying cultures to creep in.  Competitive people will find ways to compete with each other.  But great managers focus that competitive drive externally.