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Supervisor Newsletter Archives

Trust: Building, Expecting and Valuing in Supervisor/Employee Relationship

Q. I want to be fair when giving assignments to employees, but I tend to make assignments based on my level of trust with certain employees. Maybe it's believability, authenticity, or realness-I can't put my finger on it-but this difference affects my judgment. How can I learn to trust other employees more?

A. Establishing trust with your employees requires a certain amount of risk, but good leaders must learn to do it. Each of your employees has unique skills and abilities, but you will not discover what they are until you test them with assignments that can reveal those skills and abilities. Some employees are more adept at opening up about themselves to others by being authentic and at time vulnerable. These characteristics often foster a sense of trust and help build a stronger employment relationship. Others who are not as open are just as competent, and thus could easily be trusted. But you do not know these employees as well, so your impulse is to trust them less. Consider engaging more with them so they become less of a mystery to you. More trust will follow.

Q. I am a new supervisor who is replacing another leadership staff member who retired. Employees had a great deal of respect for my predecessor. How do I efficiently and quickly gain their trust? I know that how I begin will be the first step toward gaining a great deal of respect in the future.

A. Understanding the meaning of trust can help you practice behaviors and set standards for yourself that will win the hearts and minds of your employees. Trust means reliance on and confidence in the truth, worth, and reliability of a person. Consider how these values translate into supervisory practice, and you'll gain trust. Every new supervisor has the battle half won when it comes to gaining trust. This is because employees want to be led by someone they trust. To get on the fast track, establish relationships with your employees that demonstrate you can be counted on for support when the going gets tough. When times are tough, your employees will have faith in your ability to support them. This will deepen their trust in you. A frequently overlooked obstacle to building trust is communication. Be a consistent communicator and make yourself accessible to your staff. This will help remove the mystery between you and your employees. Be truthful with employees. Doing so will build their confidence in you. Keep commitments and appointments and only promise what you are certain you can deliver. This will show employees that you are reliable.