Building trust remotely

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Jun 07 2021 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

Trust is one of the biggest challenges to working remotely. Do you trust that your people are working hard and smart or do you try to micromanage them? Does your boss leave you alone enough to get your work done but not so much that you suspect she forgets you exist? You work hard, but will the rest of the team have your back and meet their commitments?

Trusting the people your work with (and for) has never been easy. When you work remotely it's even tougher. It can, however, be done.

David Horsager is a business strategist, professor, keynote speaker and author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line (Summerside Press, 2011). And according to him, managers can create a culture of trust by building what he calls "the Eight Pillars of Trust".

1. Clarity. When managers are clear about the vision of where that group should be headed teams are more unified, motivated and more apt to accomplish the mission. I once had a manager who waited to tell me what I should have been doing all year at my annual review. What a waste! Managers who are clear about the vision, expectations, and objectives are more trusted.

2. Compassion. When team members are confident that the manager cares beyond himself or herself they are willing to take direction and put faith in management. There are three actions that we can use to show care in the workplace and in our homes. I call them the LAW of compassion: Listen, Appreciate, and Wake up. Listen with focused attention. Find a way to sincerely appreciate others. Wake-up and be present to the opportunities and people you are around right now.

3. Character. In a 2002 Study by the American Management Association managers were asked what they would most like to see in their supervisors. To that open-ended question the word "integrity" was the most common answer by far. When we see congruence of thoughts, words, and actions we trust their decision-making. A couple of ways to show high character. First, in every situation ask, "Is it the right thing to do?" Secondly, write out your top five values to live by. We have found that managers that write out their top five values and make decisions by those values are much more trusted and are able to make decisions more quickly.

4. Competency. Make sure to stay fresh, relevant and capable in your area of expertise. The most trusted people are continual learners not "been-there-done-that" types. They are humble and often read good books, have mentors, and are involved in development activities like Mastermind groups.

5. Commitment. We can tell if a manager is committed to the organization and to his or her team. Teams are willing to follow and work harder for the committed manager even through adversity.

6. Connection. The ability to connect and collaborate with others is less and less common. It shouldn't be! Those who are trusted connect by asking questions, acting sincerely, genuinely apologizing when necessary, avoiding complaining, and showing gratitude. If they need to use technology to accomplish that, they use it effectively.

7. Contribution. At the end of the day we need to see results. We need contributors. We need those results with the other pillars like compassion or character otherwise we will not trust over time. Make sure to build ALL of the other pillars and make sure to deliver on promised outcomes.

8. Consistency. Consistency is the king of the pillars. Consistency is the only way to build a reputation or a brand. One can be trusted for good or bad. If someone is always late for meetings I will expect him to be late every time. If someone is consistently sharing a clear vision and empowering others to accomplish it, I will trust that vision.

The wonderful thing about this list, is that it applies to face to face situations as well. How have you worked with your project t team to create an atmosphere of trust? How's it going for you?

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.