How to trust your staff in a crisis

Authentically Being News   •   April 21, 2020

Only a few short months ago I was hanging my head in despair listening to people go on about how remote working just wouldn’t work in their organisations.  Fast forward to today and my LinkedIn feed is flooded with the tiny smiley faces of teams snapped on their virtual meetings all “in this together” and having a laugh.

Anyway, I digress, the point is, at surface level it seems to be working, we are proving that technology has given us the ability to adapt and survive without the 4 walls of a starkly painted office and a time stamped access pass.

But what about those responsible for staff at this time?  Having barely trusted staff in the office environment before; were leaders really prepared to trust their teams from the confines of their homes at such short notice and without much option? Side note…it shouldn’t have taken a global crisis for trust to suddenly become so important.

We’re here now, and as if leadership wasn’t hard enough Covid-19 has dumped a whole load of new worries on the table.

So, if you’re a leader whose been kept awake at night worrying about how you’re going to keep your team going without you breathing down their necks here are a few tips to get you on the way to building trust within your team.

1. Let go of needing to have all the answers

You don’t have to have all the answers right now, but you do have to be clear and direct. Be honest about the reality.  You know when someone is speaking BS, your staff do too.

 2. Be your authentic self

The world in crisis and that includes you. So what if your child needs soothing during your video call or your hair has gone into rebellion and is now a homage to the 80’s. You never know, your team might realise you’re human also, and finally be able to relate.

3. Lead don’t manage

Just because we’re in the middle of a crisis it doesn’t mean that your team is now incapable of making great decisions and contributing to the way in which they operate. Allow them to help set the tone. You can step in if necessary, at a later date. Stop micromanaging, even if it makes you feel useful!

4. Be present and show your face

People need people, we crave connection and feeling like we are heard. Perceived social isolation is one of the hardest things a human can face. Turn your camera on and make the time to listen to your staff on a regular basis.  It is needed now more than ever.

5. Over communicate

Creating stories is what we are good at as people, so if you’re telling them nothing, that’s telling them something. The more you keep your team informed the easier it will become when things get tough.  Use it as the opportunity to hold yourselves accountable.  Of course, you can’t please all the people all of the time…but you did employ highly competent and rational people who will understand the facts. How about getting creative with keeping in touch?  Online quizzes, open book clubs, sharing film recommendations and even pets being brought to the screen.

6. Stick your neck out first

You want your team to support and trust you? Great, now show them how you are trusting and supporting them first.  It’s your responsibility to lead by example, not to demand they follow you blindly.

7. Do what you say you’re going to do

You told the team you are going to speak to HR and have an answer by Wednesday. DO IT! If you can’t get the answers keep the team informed, don’t avoid it until you have something substantial to say.  Your credibility relies on it.

These tips seem simple, and they are but they begin with you being brave and open enough to trust in yourself and others in the first place.

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