As a project manager, a lot of responsibility rests on your shoulders. Not only do you have to see to it that the project is completed to the highest standard of quality, you also have to make sure your team is working together in a way that will allow that to happen. You’re in charge not only of the logistics, but the social climate surrounding the assignment. Building trust is absolutely necessary for successful partnerships of all kinds, and it’s especially important to facilitate trust building as a project manager. The act of building trust can transform a group of people working together into a rock star team.
By Being Transparent
Sugarcoating things only makes them easier to say in the moment – things get much worse in the long run. If a project is going to be complicated, you need to be forthcoming about what goes into seeing that project through to completion. If you make something that’s actually a big deal seem like it’s nothing, your team is going to realize that you were being deceptive. This is not the right foot to step forward with. They’ll respect you and trust you more if you’re honest from the beginning.
By Providing the Right Kind of Support
If you give orders and your team doesn’t actually see you doing anything, this might give them the impression that you’re arrogant. Even if you’re working behind the scenes, this may not be apparent to your team members. You need to sit down with them while they’re working, helping them along the way. Doing the dirty work every now and then demonstrates to your team members that you understand and appreciate all the difficult things they accomplish, and that you aren’t giving commands just to lighten your load.
Through Encouraging Independence
Your way won’t always be the right way. A great team is made of people with diverse experiences and a wide array of talents. Sometimes, they’ll know things you don’t know. Let them demonstrate that knowledge to you. If they believe they know a better way of doing things, let them give it a shot. Innovative minds will always win out. By allowing innovators to use their voices, you’re helping them to feel as though they are your equal. Level playing fields breed trust all on their own.
By Handling Conflict Like a Champ
People are going to argue. You have multiple people with different viewpoints all attempting to lend themselves to the same projects. Shooting team members down will only give them the impression that you put yourself on a pedestal. Nobody is going to be willing to throw trust in the air and hope you’ll catch it. Don’t silence conflict – diplomatically moderate it. There could be times when a team member is upset with something that you did. You need to allow relevant criticism, especially if it’s being phrased in a constructive way.
By Taking Responsibility
Things won’t always work. Ideas will need to be scrapped at the last minute. You’ll receive negative feedback when a project is near completion. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s the reality of working as a project manager. When things go wrong, you need to be able to accept responsibility for that. You greenlighted all of the plans, so pointing fingers at the people who worked so hard to follow them isn’t going to get you anywhere. Showing solidarity with your team is the best way for them to know you actually care. They’ll trust your judgement and take the news much easier when they find out there’s more work to be done at the last minute.
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t speak to your team members in an authoritarian way. Even though you’re a leader, you’re still a part of that same team. Trust comes from the ability to rely on one another, and they need to be able to rely on you.