Regardless of the title, you have to establish credibility by earning trust and respect from your subordinates to exercise authority. For this to happen, you have to prove that the interests of the Company and your subordinates comes before self glory. Generally, you would think that a new manager would be challenged by a situation of gaining trust and respect, but it applies to managers who are unable to act as leaders, too. Subordinates are skeptical to know, if you are for yourself, or for the organization?
I have strived continuously over 20 years to make subordinates feel good about their development to increase loyalty and also earn trust and respect. A few of those actions over this long period are listed below. Some were appreciated, some not, some worked and others did not. But yet, they were actions!:
Establish a culture of continuous learning and improvement:
Started having regular meetings with all staff, discussing learning points and success stories to drive the importance of their work. This encouraged staff to share their little successes in front of their colleagues. When individuals are recognized as good performers others enjoy being around those good achievers. Such atmosphere will drive them to stretch themselves even further for greater accomplishments.
Provide regular feedback:
Ongoing, continuous feedback is important to inculcate a culture of high performance. The purposes of feedback are to reinforce good behaviour and change bad behaviour. Hence, everyone needs to recognize how his/her behaviour impact others and learn from it. If the impact is positive, keep on doing it. If the impact is negative, change and adopt a new behaviour that will result in positive impact to others. If you have a fear of providing feedback about developmental needs, get over it. The new generation does not appreciate ‘sugar coating’ feedback!
Encourage learning and development:
Your subordinates look up to you for direction and personal as well as professional growth. In my unit, nobody misses any training course that is scheduled for them, due to work. This way the staff know that it’s not a selfish approach but their growth also matters to us.
Provide a safe environment for your subordinates to operate in:
Show that you are fully responsible and accountable for all events in your department. You provide the ‘buffer’ for your subordinates to be able to do their work effectively. Empower your subordinates to make decisions related to their scope of work. Assuming that something goes wrong in some specific situations, you do not penalize your subordinates for the mistakes that they unintentionally make. Instead, you should conduct a rational one-on-one feedback session to guide them in the correct path. Your support for them to succeed is crucial in building trust with your subordinates.
Demonstrate genuine interest to serve:
“Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” – J. Donald Walters.
You will earn trust and respect from your subordinates when you demonstrate genuine interest to serve them. A significant irritant for new managers and staff is my approach to solving their work related problems!. My approach is ” I don’t have answers, you find it and present it to me”. Else its a case of ” do not come to me with problems but solutions.” They begin to appreciate this after awhile….if they survive the challenge! Coach them to solve problems by asking the right questions to get them to find the answers; rather than telling them what to do.
Most importantly, Communicate, Communicate and communicate.