Want to build trust? Try this approach

I was recently talking to Paul Wilson, Managing Director of Pet Barn, Australia’s largest specialty pet retailer about what causes leaders to fail in their quest to create high performing teams. Paul felt an absence of trust was usually the primary factor.

“I think it usually comes down to a lack of trust. If you betray people’s trust in a team then it’s really going to be hard to get that team to work collaboratively to support you in what you are trying to achieve.”

I asked Paul how he builds trust and his response highlighted 6 key actions:

  •  Be genuine. “I think it’s about being genuine. It’s about being yourself, it’s about not being something that you are not.
  • Take an interest in people’s lives. “To some extent it’s about involving yourself in their lives, not just at work but beyond that. By taking the time to understand people and what’s going on in their lives and having empathy for that, I think people tend to support you and have more trust in you.”
  • Provide clarity on roles and accountabilities. “Everyone needs to understand what you expect from them and in a team, they need to understand what each of them does and is accountable for.”
  • Let people do their job. “I think the other thing is letting people have the freedom to do their job. Once they know what they’ve been asked to do, let them go and do it. Let them make mistakes. I think when you back people, they usually perform well.”
  • Be a supportive coach (even when they fail). “I think that an important part of your job as a leader is to support and coach your team. When they’ve got an issue and they are looking for some advice or someone to listen to them that’s your job. Half the time just sitting and listening results in the problem getting resolved. My experience has been that if you keep backing people, let them know you are disappointed if necessary but support them, they soon come back to you and lift their game.”
  • Be straight. “If someone lets you down, I think it’s important to let them know how you feel about it rather than hide it from them. I think you owe it to them to let them know. Hopefully they learn from it and move on and say to you ‘well hey this is why it’s happened’. Usually when you talk it out you get a good outcome. And it certainly builds trust.”

While building and rebuilding trust is a complex and ongoing exercise, Paul’s suggestions make good sense.

Have a great week.



Mark Rosenberg