Creating a culture of trust with employees and clients
You need people to have confidence in your leadership and you want to build a culture of trust, but your team is remote and you’re remote. How do you take command, establish a team culture and exert influence in a virtual workplace? It all comes down to two basics:
- Have a clear end goal in mind
- Build trust in your relationships
Remote team culture is a BIG thing and it takes a lot of hard work and consistent effort to develop it. We’ve talked about the need to set expectations in previous ACTION steps. Expectations are not just tied to job requirements; they’re also related to a team’s cultural values. Identifying cultural attributes up front helps you decide the how, what, why, who’s that will guide how you and your team behave towards each other and towards people outside the team e.g. collaborators or customers. Identifying the characteristics and behaviors for your team is also an important first step to building team trust, take it seriously and do the work upfront.
HOW DO I IDENTIFY CULTURAL VALUES FOR MY TEAM?
Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate and try to dictate behaviors. Remote employees can’t be micromanaged. They work autonomously, they work out of your sight and they must be able to work independently in their own space. Focus instead on outcomes and ethics. For example, one of our team values is “Speak up and ask questions if you don’t understand”. Our team assumes someone gets it unless told otherwise – we can’t read minds, nor can we see when someone is in physical or mental distress. If a team member doesn’t speak up, we can’t help. To help you get started on yours, here’s ours:
Sophaya Cultural Values
- Identify expectations up front, don’t assume. Ask for clarification if you don’t fully understand.
- Treat everyone like a friend you haven’t met yet, give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Listen first, empathize, but hold people accountable.
- Own responsibility for yourself and your obligations – do what you say you’re going to do.
- Always speak your truth with respect and professionalism.
- No one knows everything, speak up and ask questions if you don’t understand.
- Help those in need when you’re able but say no when you need to do so.
- Ask for help before you get in too deep.
- Focus on your deadlines, but let people know ahead of time when you can’t meet them.
- Always keep an open mind.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable – keep pushing yourself to learn and be better.
- Focus on the solution, not who’s to blame.
- Accept that people are messy and get over it.
- We all make mistakes, learn from them and don’t make the same on twice.
- Take the work seriously, don’t take yourself so seriously.
Notice these cultural values shift things so each team member, including you, must take responsibility for themselves. This is important. Remote leaders and employees must own responsibility for their actions and choices. This is where the building trust comes in. Trust and team values go hand in hand in remote teams. If trust is absent, no one will speak up when they are in trouble. If team members are worried about repercussions or ridicule, they will protect themselves. There is no team if everyone is protecting themselves.
Identifying your team’s cultural values, then communicating them to your people is step one. Step two is building a workplace of trust so you can bring those values to life. There is no shortcut to building trust. It’s develops in response to each person’s day-to-day actions and how you, the team leader, hold each team member accountable for theirs. Trust is a cumulative effect that grows based on how you and your remote employees behave daily in relation to your team’s stated cultural values. When the team’s behavior supports those values, credibility grows. When the team act against the stated values, trust is lost.
Tune in tomorrow when we talk about the daily actions you can with your team to strength the team trust once team values are established.
Reference used in this blog post: https://www.npr.org/2015/03/27/395039920/how-can-playing-a-game-make-you-more-empathetic