As leaders, project managers are expected to drive their teams forward. One key ingredient of high-performing teams is a large amount of trust between team members and leaders. As a leader it’s important for the project manager to ensure that their teams trust them, their abilities and their decision making. This post will offer some tips on how to effectively build trust with your team members.
Be an Active Listener
Nobody likes to feel ignored, especially team members. As a project manager it’s your job to ensure that everyone has a voice and that the ideas of the collective are driving the project forward. When a team member has an idea, or a concern it’s important that the team member’s voice is heard and understood by leadership. Being an active listener not only helps the easy exchange of ideas and information but also as a by-product builds trust between individuals. Regardless of the ideas or concerns being shared, if someone feels heard and listened to it inherently builds trust and further cements the relationship. Active listening, while sounding simple, is not as easy as it seems. It requires the listener to channel their focus to the conversation at hand, and in today’s world of such accessible distractions (phones, emails, text messages) that presents an added challenge. Quick tip: turn off your email, flip over your phone when you are engaging in these types of conversations. Your focus will narrow and the person on the other side of the desk will feel much more validated when they see you making the honest effort to really take in what they have to say.
Follow Through on Commitments
Nothing erodes trust more than failed commitments. Whether it’s your project team failing to meet client commitments or you as a leader failing to deliver on what you promise to your team. As project managers, we expect our teams to deliver on what they commit to, so what makes us any different? When you as a leader expect your team to follow through, you need to lead by example. Whether it’s bringing additional resources to the project to help or even preparing a document that will help another team member along with their job, it’s so incredibly important that whatever you commit to, you deliver. Your team will notice it and as with most teams will follow your lead.
Never Ask Something of Someone You Aren’t Willing to do Yourself
I’ve quoted this before as something that leaders just “do”. While it’s not the job of the project manager to design solutions, crunch code or do testing, it’s important that your team feel that they are not being asked to do anything that the project manager isn’t *willing* to do themselves. That’s not saying the project manager/leader is actually capable of doing any of these tasks but in order to build trust, team members should understand that if they are being asked to go above and beyond that they are not alone. For example, if your team is needing to work late in order to meet a deadline, it’s important that the project manager be right alongside them to show that they are in this together (if it’s someone having to work late because of failing to meet commitments, that’s another story).
Nothing will build trust quicker than seeing your leadership right next to you in the trenches, working alongside you to get the job done.