Say Hello, Wave Goodbye…Building trust
In our latest noodle and the accidental manager podcast episode #23 we look at how the inter-personal dynamics can change in our working relationships, the fragility of trust, and the importance of being able to handle ourselves with courage and grace in challenging and difficult circumstances.
Having good relationships in the workplace is fundamental to a successful working environment, but how do you navigate awkward situations and deal with colleagues who are disgruntled or envious of your success, and disappointed at their own lack of progress? Or vice versa? And in the infamous ‘exit interview’, how do you handle yourself with poise and grace, giving an honest appraisal of your time with the organisation, without rubbishing people?
A difficult start
A workplace situation which can be difficult for everyone to deal with is when a younger person is promoted above colleagues who are older. There could be many reasons for this. Maybe they have been transferred from another department. Maybe a fresh approach is needed and the group are a little too set in their ways. Perhaps nobody else went for the job – but there’s always potentially someone whose nose is out of joint. You can imagine that difficult first meeting, with some people thinking, even verbalising – “Why should we listen to you?” “You don’t know how things work around here”.
It's difficult to build trust in a new team and even harder if there has been a tricky start. Initially, the team doesn’t trust the new manager, and the manager will find it difficult to trust a team which shows little respect. But, if you are the new manager, little by little you will build that trust. It won’t be easy, and it may take some time. It is important to identify what the problems are, and any underlying causes and start to take the necessary steps to solve them. Your knowledge, self-assurance and competence will lay a solid foundation.
The ‘herd mentality’ can be difficult to overcome, but by acting promptly, (rather than hoping to will sort itself out) to break up the herd, by engaging in one-to-one conversations with each member of the team, any truculence will fade away as you start to build relationships, and trust will follow. Converse with your team, learn their individual styles and preferences, such as some people need to be closely managed, others will work better if you give them a little more space, these are the nuances of management which come through experience.
Don’t be afraid to say “yes”
Having good working relationships with strong foundations can lead to other things. Consider what you are like to work with. If people trust you and enjoy working with you, this can open the door to unexpected opportunities. Maybe somebody senior who respects your abilities and the way you handle yourself has left the organisation and set up business elsewhere. Good relationships are based on person to person, not the company. If you continue to have a good relationship, who knows where this might lead?
When new opportunities arise, there will be times when you have to ‘trust your gut’, and not be afraid to say ‘yes’, even when the path ahead is a little unclear. Do you have the ability to start something new and make a success of it? If other people who know you, and have worked alongside you in the past, believe in and trust in you, it will give you the confidence to do the same. They may even see potential in you that you cannot see yet.
Trust breeds success
Sometimes, it’s not until you actually have the courage to try something, that you realise you can do it. Even here at noodle, we have experience of this. When one of our clients asked us to do something a little differently, we were initially resistant, but their confidence in us gave us the belief to know we could do it. And we did. Our success was a direct result of their trust in us, and ours in them. They challenged us to approach things differently from the way we ordinarily do, and we trusted that they knew what they wanted, that we could do it, and that it would work.
One of the most difficult things to have to deal with in the workplace is when you have to step up and manage a team which you have previously been on a level with. Or to be managing a person who was previously managing you (someone who may have been on maternity leave, or long-term sick, for instance). Perhaps you are even the one who has seen someone promoted over their head. Such situations can test you to the limit. It can be tricky on both sides. Strong emotions come into play; envy, and disgruntlement. You have to handle the situation with sensitivity and honesty. If you are the manager, you have to manage. If you are the one being managed, you have to process your disappointment and move on.
The ’exit’ interview
Most people who have left an organisation have had to sit through an ‘exit interview’. It’s one thing to speak with honesty and integrity about where the organisation falls short and how it can be improved. It’s quite another to start mud-slinging and calling out colleagues whom you maybe didn’t get on so well with, for whatever reason. Remember, it’s a small world. Even though you are changing your workplace, your paths may cross again in the future and you may need to ask for references!
Are you being used?
There is a difference between trusting people and using them. If a colleague asks, “Can you just give me a hand with this?”, you’re not likely to say no. But if they keep asking, day after day, there must inevitably come a point where you have to. If a relationship is too one-sided, it becomes depleted, and in the end, there will be nothing left. Instead of letting your working relationship become increasingly diminished each time you are asked to help, maybe you can guide your colleague in working out how to do a better job by themselves.
Nobody likes being ghosted
If you want to close down an online working relationship, an appreciative farewell message will ease you out nicely. Nobody likes to be ghosted. Remember all of those times you applied for a new job, or pitched a new proposal and didn’t hear anything? How much better would you have felt if you had received even just a short note saying, “Sorry, you’re not quite right for us at this time”. It’s not much, but it’s better than silence.
Find out more
We expand on how to build and maintain trust in relationships at The Accidental Manager where there are five-minute noodles on Transforming Relationships, the Drama Triangle and the Trust Equation. These all look at how you can manage your interaction with others, and how to be the kind of person people want to work with and remain connected with.
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