Trust is not automatic. If it were, we could get ourselves into real trouble sometimes. The self-preservation instinct can make us skeptical, especially if we’ve been burned before, but staying skeptical won’t do us any good either. Building trust with workers and developing positive relationships can help a company succeed.
So, what does it take to trust someone?
Well, first you need to get to know them. You need enough experience with the person to believe that honesty is important to them and that they have the integrity to uphold it. Essentially, you need to build an open, respectful relationship to even begin to trust your worker.
This is pretty easy with the workers in your office. You get a good picture of what they’re like by observing how they interact with others, how they deal with different types of situations, how seriously they take their work, etc. All of these experiences help to form a picture of a person’s trustworthiness.
But what about the workers that you don’t see every day, the remote employees that you only type with over a chat service, and that you talk to on the phone but never see interacting with others?
This is one of the main challenges of managing a remote team. Building relationships with people you don’t see every day is challenging.
Building Trust With Your Remote Workforce
1. Examine yourself
The first step in building trust with remote employees is to think about what kind of person you are. Do you believe people are basically trustworthy or not? If you tend to be the overly skeptical type, you might have to put in a little extra effort to take the leap of faith that is required to trust someone you don’t see often, if ever.
2. Determine and discuss expectations
If you’re concerned that your employees might not be working when they say they are, rather than trying to spy on them (this really takes too much energy and doesn’t foster mutual respect) try to form a clear picture of what their job should entail from the beginning of the day to the end or throughout a week. How many projects do you expect them to complete and what types of distractions do they face? Once you have a clear picture of your expectations, discuss it with your employees so they know what is expected of them.
3. Communicate via video conferencing and phone
While meetings get some major flack these days, you really should make a point to meet face to face on Google Hangouts or some other video conferencing platform to have meetings with your remote workforce. This is your only chance to read body language, see your employees communicating with each other, and share work progress and difficulties in a team setting. Communication of any kind is paramount but face to face meetings and phone conversations must be included as a part of your plan towards developing a relationship deep enough to have trust.
4. Be aware of projects and progress
You shouldn’t try to monitor your remote workers’ every move but you should try to be aware of the projects they work on. Employees could be working hard all day, every day but if you never hear about it, then you can’t get to know them, their values, and their strengths and weaknesses and, of course, you don’t know they’re working if you don’t see their work.
Using an online time tracking software helps keep remote workers visible to their supervisors. Employees can share the work they’re doing with their boss by tracking time on projects. This visibility is really helpful in maintaining trust.