In order to effectively lead your team members, you first have to earn their trust. But when you’re brand new to your leadership position, that puts you in a bind. Trust is something that’s earned over time—not something you can create on day one. What can new leaders and managers do, then, to start the trust-building process early on?
Building Trust with Your Team
I’ve got a few recommendations.
- When you first arrive in a new leadership role, don’t try to roll out ambitious programs or propose big changes. That can come later, once you’ve earned trust—but if you try to shake things up right out of the gate, it’s going to scare people. Instead, make it your primary mission to establish trust. Schedule a meeting where that’s your only objective—to get to know your team, and to start amassing credibility.
- Be candid with your team members. Ask them about themselves, and take notes about what they say. You may even use a few icebreaker questions to get the conversation going. As you learn about your employees, jot down anything you think you might use in a future team-building exercise.
- Tell them who you are. You can introduce some of your professional accomplishments, but it’s even more important to tell them what drives you, how you approach leadership, and why you think you’re a good fit for the team. Remember: The more your team gets to know you, the more they’re going to trust you.
- I also recommend a healthy dose of humility. Make it clear that you’re willing to learn. You may know a lot about management, but your team members know each other. They know the group dynamic. They know what works and what doesn’t. Let them know that you’re open to learning from them, and that you’re eager to hear feedback and suggestions.
- Finally, be warned that you may get some tough questions—questions about how you’re going to change things, or what new initiatives you’re going to unveil. Be ready to answer with honesty and humility. It’s okay to say so if you still haven’t figured everything out.
The bottom line: You can’t lead without trust—and when you’re new to a leadership role, building trust is the foremost priority.