Trust & Delegation – the path to employee growth

The recent lock-down and remote working has been a nightmare for micro-managers everywhere. The inability to control all aspects of work in their area of accountability has caused increased stress and worry, pushing several micro-managers close to the edge.

Conversely, those managers who are used to delegating and implicitly trust their team to get on with their tasks and to deliver to a high standard, shouting early if a problem arises, have sailed through the lock-down sure in the knowledge that the team are doing what they need to be doing.

Why is it that some managers find they can trust their team and can therefore delegate with impunity, whilst others struggle to let go and worry that tasks are not being done to the required standard, if at all?

In a recent Harvard Business review article Professor Frances Fri and her co-author Anne Morriss, explain their thesis that ‘Trust’ has three core drivers, a concept they call the Trust Triangle.

From HBR article by Frances Fri & Anne Morriss

Your colleagues will trust you as a manager if they believe they are interacting with the real you, your authentic self. Your interaction with your team is consistent and truthful and you are confident enough to share your uncertainties and vulnerabilities, when it is prudent to do so.

You colleagues also need to understand your logic and rationale behind your decisions, they need to have faith in your judgement. Your ability to calmly and cogently explain why you are making decisions and / or taking actions based on data and insight will demonstrate a rigour of thought that builds confidence in your team’s perspective of your ability to lead.

The third driver is empathy. Individuals need to feel that you care about them more than you do about yourself and you are giving them your full attention. This is harder than it looks in today’s always on, constant clamour for your attention world, that we all occupy. Indulging interruptions such as glancing at your phone when in a meeting or worse, when interacting with someone one to one, costs a heavy price in the Trust stakes.

It is common for managers and leaders who struggle with trusting their team to wobble on at least one of these core drivers. It is a worthwhile exercise to bring to mind folk you trust and try and work out why? There is a good chance that it is because they tick all three trust drivers.

More interesting is to bring to mind someone you don’t trust and ask yourself why? Which of the three core drivers is wobbling? Once you know this then you can hone in and start to do something about it in this relationship.

It really is in your best interest to act when trust begins to wobble as the consequence of inaction is more work for you, more stress and worry and a damaged relationship that, if left alone to fester, may never heal.