Being a call centre manager is a tough job. And it’s an impossible job unless you have the trust of your team. We probably all recognise that trust is a pretty nebulous concept and is difficult to gain and easy to lose. So, just how does a manager go about creating and maintaining trust?
1. Tell the truth
This may appear to be easy. Yet, in practice, it becomes increasingly difficult to be totally truthful when difficult or sensitive situations arise.
What do you do when a member of your team is putting in the effort but is not performing well? What if s/he asks for feedback? You may not want to hurt any feelings. You may be tempted to be less than honest and say that all is well. There are, though, many problems with this approach:
- other team members will lose trust that you are honest with them on all things
- the individual will know that s/he is not as good as the others in the team and won’t understand why you won’t be honest and help him/her to improve
- the individual won’t improve and it will impact your and your team’s prospects and prosperity, not just his/her own.
It’s much better to thank your poorly performing team member for the request for feedback. Find somewhere quiet and be honest. Say how much you admire his/her efforts and that you’re sure s/he will be successful. Outline precisely what s/he needs to do to improve. It may feel a little uncomfortable to start with, but you will be genuinely helping your team member and demonstrating your trustworthiness to the whole team.
2. Communicate frequently
It’s human nature to fill silences with negative assumptions. If you want to create and maintain trust amongst your team, you need to keep them informed of what’s happening. The more you can give them information about how things are progressing and what the future is looking like for the team, the more trust you will inspire.
3. Walk the walk
Very little does more to destroy trust, or prevent it from gaining traction, than managers who are happy to issue commands but are never prepared to get their hands dirty themselves. This doesn’t mean that you should do other people’s jobs. It does mean that you need to be able to show that you have done the difficult/undesirable elements of the job yourself.
4. Genuinely care
A brusque ‘good morning’ is not exactly the foundation for a strong and trusting relationship with the members of your team. If you want to build trust quickly, it’s useful to build a connection between you and your people. You need to find out a bit about their families, their interests, their passions, their worries, and their career ambitions. You need to show how much you genuinely care about them and don’t just see them as a business resource.
Consistency is essential, and if you fail to demonstrate it, your good work will be undone. Without it, you will open yourself up to a range of criticisms, none of which will support your efforts to gain and maintain trust from your team.
Gaining and maintaining trust from your team members is no easy feat, but it’s essential to establish it if any progress is to be made. What’s more, it’s a core part of all relationships. As recognised by entrepreneur Brian Tracy, “the glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between the leader and the led, is trust” and if you, as a leader, aren’t creating it, what’s stopping you?
Heather Foley is a consultant at etsplc.com, HR consultancy and software provider