How to Restore Trust After an Epic Fail
People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. That’s why it's your responsibility to minimize the threats and triggers getting in your way of being a credible, results-oriented, talent-attracting boss.
Take a minute to read Forbes magazine’s Top 8 Reasons Your Best People are About to Quit., then come back for a quick leadership check-up.
Okay—gut check time: are you guilty of any of these eight management sins? If so, I have good news—it may not be too late to turn things around. Your path to leadership salvation begins with these six steps:
Leaders, even great ones, make mistakes. So if you want to prevent people from jumping ship, own your mistakes and apologize for them. Skip this step and people will start running for the lifeboats. Even if the outcome isn’t 100% your fault, you’re the leader. And when you do apologize, embody these four pillars of good character: caring, integrity, accountability, vulnerability.
Still not sure how to take personal responsibility? Start by saying this:
I am sorry.
I know know this is the impact I had when I did this...
My intent was this...
I am committed to doing (insert new behavior here) moving forward.
My request is you support me by… (insert how you want this person to help you here).”
Focused Leadership Question: When was the last time you apologized to your staff?
DISCOVER exactly what you’re taking responsibility for.
Here’s a quick way to dramatically increase your efficiency at figuring out what you did wrong: ASK. Communicate with each person individually to discover the facts about their experience with you. And let them know that you know that if their trust in you was damaged, they may not feel safe being honest with you right away. Leaders design for consistently and constantly checking in on the pulse of their people. Everyone needs to know where they stand, including you.
Check your baggage at the door and communicate from a place of curiosity. Ask questions you don’t know the answer to. Use the SCARF model to create a safe place to have an honest conversation. Have the courage to ask the hard questions. Whatever you do, don’t defend your point of view. And make sure to show genuine appreciation for their insight; it’s valuable intel to your performance.
Focused Leadership Question: Do you know where you stand with your people? What is the number one thing they would ask you to do differently?
EARN back the trust you’ve damaged.
The only way to restore trust again is by focusing on building quality relationships with your team. Trust is earned through the accumulation of little moments. Every experience people have with us adds up, like the change in your piggy bank. Some moments carry more value than others, and every interaction counts as an opportunity to create a genuine connection by validating that you care about them and that what’s important to them is safe with you. Becoming a reliable resource to them is the beginning of earning back the right to be a partner and trusted leader, so make sure to invest more into the human element of business.
Focused Leadership Question: Are you a friend of convenience to your staff, only interacting with them when you need something?
FOLLOW YOUR VALUES
In leadership, the right path isn’t always clear. It’s easy to get distracted with with the overwhelming expectations circling us constantly like a pack of vultures. And, always remember, if you can go to bed every night knowing you were in integrity to your word and your values, it's hard to go wrong. Your values will light the most rewarding, fulfilling path for you. And when sh*t does hit the fan, your values will be right there to give you the energy and perspective to take it on.
Focused Leadership Question: What are your top 5 values? Where are you not aligned with them at work?
CREATE small WINS
Modeling the way is one of the Five Practices to Explementary Leadership™. Even if people don’t believe you’ll do what you say, let your actions lead the way. Design for small, easy wins to show your team you learned from your mistake and you are committed to doing moving forward differently.
Focused Leadership Question: What one thing can you do next week to get into motion in earning your credibility back?
Show COMMITMENT, not just interest
People can read BS from miles away. If you’re serious about your efforts, your staff will be, too. You have to wholeheartedly commit to connection, consistency, and continuous Improvement. Being interested and committed generate two very different outcomes.
What are your your trigger points? You know what got you into this mess in the first place, so create an environment that minimizes the threat of your triggers. Be a consistent self-regulator, and you won’t give anyone the chance to not trust you again.
Focused Leadership Question: Who can you trust to give you the business if you fall back into old behavior patterns?
Be the leader everyone loves because:
People know you care about them and trust you to lead them.
You live with a growth-mindset—always experimenting, assessing, and pivoting.
You take ownership when things go off-track and get them back on right away.
To your happiness and success,