One of the most challenging situations for new managers is to build trust within their team, especially if the manager is new to the organization.
I met such a person who is an administrator for the health care center at a senior care retirement community. She is young and new to the community. Yet, she told me that she begins each staff meeting with one staff person sharing something personal. It could be about a book they’ve read, poetry they’ve written, a dance they’ve learned, anything that is about themselves. The administrator told me her staff can’t wait to find out what people will share. It has infused energy, excitement, and bonding among her nursing staff.
I asked her, “How did you establish this practice? How do you get people to open up in this manner and to trust you?”
Her secret? She had to show them that they could trust her.
For the first three months, she spent most of her time walking the hallways of the health care center, working with nursing staff side-by-side, ate lunch with them, worked on all three shifts, spent time with staff to get to know them professionally and personally, talked with residents about the care they were receiving from the nursing staff, and was completely open about her life. As a result, she bonded with them, knew what was important in their lives, what adjustments she had to make to relate effectively with each one. Only after this, did she introduce the personal sharing of one staff person in staff meetings.
I asked her, “Do you think this would have happened if you didn’t do what you did in the first three months?”
“NO,” she said, “building trust takes time.”
When you are able to know staff and can talk about their failures, hopes, family, etc. then trust begins. She thoroughly enjoys the challenges as an administrator and in building a team based on trust. It takes hard and long work, patience, listening, sincerity, and vulnerability.
She clearly is a mindful leader, one that cultivates focus, compassion, and nonjudgmental attention in the present moment. Her nursing staff could see and feel that presence.
How do you build trust within your staff? How can staff see and feel your presence as a mindful leader?