If your employees have lost their trust in you, you probably have deep feelings about the situation. It’s a little embarrassing to feel like you’ve let yourself and your employees down.
Feeling a little upset is normal, but a great leader is prepared to step up for the team, amend the situation, and make the workplace a pleasant environment again. If you need to regain some trust, start the process as soon as possible.
1. Admit Mistakes
The first thing a leader should do is admit the wrongdoing. Acknowledge what you did that caused your team to lose trust in you. Team members want a real admission and apology – this means you wholly accept responsibility without attempting to pass the blame off onto others. Even if others were partially to blame, speak specifically about your part. If someone else has some apologizing or explaining to do, leave that to them. You should only have to answer for yourself.
2. Do a Lot of Listening
Your employees likely have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the disappointing situation. Barring that topic of conversation will only cause those concerns to become more intense. Encourage them to tell you how they feel and how their loss of trust is affecting them at work. Take the criticism gracefully, apologize, and acknowledge your contribution to that situation.
3. Work Alongside The Team
Although your team members may not be happy with you, the worst thing you can do is hide behind closed doors. Work with your team. When they’re dealing with their responsibilities, get your hands involved. If you’ve made mistakes that hindered their ability to do their jobs or caused more work for them, pick up some of that slack as a gesture of acknowledgment. It shows that you’re genuinely remorseful and you’re committed to making things right.
4. Empower Employees to Their Strengths
There is a mountain of reasons why your capable and talented employees should be empowered to act on their professional strengths. In a time when trust has been lost, you’re putting the trust in them. They’ll understand how much you value them and that you recognize them as ambitious, hardworking, and competent. They need to be lifted up, and you have the ability to do that through empowerment.
5. Avoid Being a Boss
If you start barking out orders, your employees won’t take kindly to that. Yes, you are still a leader, but you’re essentially starting from the beginning. Take a few lessons from Michael Scott. You need to build some of your authority back. Make sure you’re leading and not throwing around demands. Leaders are involved, leaders ask politely, and leaders value input. Most importantly, they’re a member of the team rather than an outsider overseeing it.
6. Show Improvement in Your Actions
Once you’ve acknowledged your mistakes, accepted fair criticism, and issued your apology, the journey is only just beginning. All you can do is avoid making mistakes in the future. Your team members need to see that you’re changing the methods and practices that lead to that lost of trust. Implementing feedbacks and changing procedures to encourage new trust will demonstrate how serious you are about fixing the situation. Let them see it with their own eyes.
7. Don’t Force Forgiveness
Let things fall back into order through time and making better decisions. Don’t force your employees to forgive you. It will happen in time, but badgering them for their forgiveness will only lead to more setbacks. They’re entitled to feel however they feel, and as long as they aren’t abusive or disruptive, they’re likely working through the impact in their own healthy ways.
Loss of trust is never a pleasant thing to deal with, but with a proper strategy, you’ll be able to recover. Great leaders care and understand what it will take to restore order, balance, and productivity within their teams. Keep your head high and continue marching forward.
Biography: Evie Cooper is a content expert and a project manager for UK Area Code and Postcode-Checker. Several years of working in multiple teams over a variety of projects has taught Evie a lot about leadership, team building and HR – thoughts and ideas which she enjoys sharing with other professionals. Privately, a poetry fan.