This post was written by Jay Prewitt, Director of Coaching and Facilitation at The Latimer Group.
Have you thought about the trust quotient of your hybrid work teams? If not, you should. The Atlantic recently published an article that calls out a “trust recession” looming over the American economy, along with the possibility of financial recession. The article discusses trust from a macro view of how the economy is affected when trust decreases. I want to go micro and think about what we do every day. Outside of the economic implications (and I’m no economist) the article brings up great points about the real, unintended effects of eroding trust in remote work environments. “The concept may sound squishy, but the effect isn’t.” When trust erodes, it degrades the fiber that connects each colleague, negatively affecting collaboration and shared purpose.
Here are a few ways to maintain trust with your hybrid teams, remembering that we all must engage in the trust process to make it work, leaders and workers alike:
- Tell people what’s going on. When we encounter a vacuum of information, we fill it with assumptions. Usually, those assumptions are based on past experiences of our own or stories we’ve been told and they usually aren’t positive. If you work remotely, focus on clueing your colleagues in on your work day. Let people know what is on your plate for the day. Check in before or after lunch. Let people know when you knock off early or when you will be at your desk longer than expected. It goes a long way.
- Assume positive intent. What if you approached engagement with your team assuming they have worked as hard or harder than you did today? It could keep you from making an error of judgement in communication which could further erode trust. The majority of us are working as hard as we can with not enough time to do it all, and the small minority is attempting to get away with doing as little as possible. Decide to make people feel seen and valued.
- Make an effort to connect with everyone. Virtual work means we have lost those personal ties to people in our sphere that were easier to maintain in person when walking by their desk or interacting with them in meetings. Find ways to say hello and connect with those peripheral folks who pop up throughout your day instead of only focusing on the direct connection. Gamers know about NPCs, or non-player characters, who are only programmed to be in the background. There are no NPCs in organizations! Everyone matters and is working towards the same end: success for our business.
Most businesses are still working out the kinks of a hybrid approach to work. Our coaching and training offerings have changed because of it. Some CEOs are trying to get rid of it, somewhat unsuccessfully. I love hybrid work concepts; it’s the future, and here to stay. But hybrid environments have drawbacks that should be recognized and solved for, especially trust. It’s time to put the trust quotient front of mind and ask: Has there been a loss of trust in my work environment? What am I doing daily to build or maintain trust within my own span of control?
Trust can be built relatively quickly, but when it is lost, it takes a herculean effort to build it back again. Ask yourself as you go through your day if your interactions with people are moving towards or away from relationships that foster trust.
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