Sunday, August 24, 2008

Have and Show Trust in Your Staff

Rule 23

“It is happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust”
Samuel Jhonson

You have a computer I take it? Ok, it crashes from time to time-that’s a given. You have a car. It breaks a car. It breaks down for time to time, even if it’s only puncture-that, too, is a given. Now you don’t eye either of these warily, expecting them let you down, watching them like a hawk in case they show any sign of breaking down, do you? No, of course not. So stop watching your staff like that. They are a tool to getting a job done. They will break down, crash, whatever, from time to time but we accept their limitations-Rule 11 and we allow them to make mistakes-Rule 10 and we accept that we aren’t managing them but their processes instead.

And if you can make that move to trusting your staff you must show them that you are doing exactly that. Trust not only has to be done but it also has to be seen to be done. Sometimes you’ll have to make a big show of really leaving them alone to get on with it.

You show them that you trust them by backing off, leaving them alone to get on with the job. Stop peering over their shoulders, checking every few moments, looking up nervously every time they move or cough or get up. Relax and let them get on with it. You can still ask them to report back at the end of the day/week and encourage them to come to you to discuss any problems. Just make it clear you trust them to do it, and you are always there if they need support or guidance.

But, I hear you say, what if I really don’t trust them? What if I know they’re a lazy, good-for-nothing, shiftless bunch of liberty takers? What if, indeed? Whose team is it? Who employed, trained, kept such a bunch of monkeys?

Sorry, bit harsh, but sometimes we need to face the reality. If you can’t trust your team you need to look to your own management skills-or keep reading. A good team leader (that’s you) has a good team following them. If the team is faulty, then the leadership has to be challenged-that’s not going to be you. If the team is right, you can trust them. If the team really can’t be trusted (and are you sure about that?) then it needs to be changed.

The Rules of Management by Richard Templar.
Photo by Microsoft