My world has just radically changed. After 12 years of living in London, I’ve just landed back in my homeland, New Zealand. Now that might not seem like a big deal, but I absolutely loved living in the UK. So, I’m not going to lie, it was a tough decision leaving my friends and UK-based family behind. But when a great opportunity comes knocking, I’m a firm believer you’ve got to grab it with both hands. In this case, it was an incredible role for my British husband. Spot the irony in that situation! As a couple we’ve always tried to live our lives with no regrets and I know, this move will be no different.
Now try to picture the situation, I’m in the UK regrettably handing in my notice to the two FizzPopBANG Founders (Imogen and Carla). Imagine my surprise when they excitedly ask me to stay on, explaining distance and time, given the right mindset, could be viewed as an opportunity not a dead end. I nearly fell off my seat! So, 5 weeks after arriving in NZ, I’m sat here waiting for my worldly possessions to arrive on a cargo ship and I ask myself a couple of key questions:
How can I still feel a part of a team that is half the world away?
How can I continue to push myself to do great things when I could easily hit the beach or watch the latest episode of ‘The Bachelor’?
The answer? Trust and purpose.
As both are such key topics, in the case of this specific post, I’m only going to cover 'trust'. I’ll leave 'purpose' for my next instalment so watch this space.
So what's the script with 'trust'? My fearless leaders Imogen and Carla trust us to get sh!t done and as a result I think we are the true definition of a team, not just a bunch of people working together. I feel part of an effective and cohesive group that are achieving meaningful goals every day. ‘Trust’ to me is relying on someone else to do the right thing. Leaders who trust their people believe in their integrity, character and ability. When present, trust is a feeling that flows both ways, which isn’t necessarily the norm as a Harvard Business Review survey revealed:
58 % for people say they trust strangers more than their own boss
How utterly depressing is that stat? It’s fair to say, mutual trust in business is at an all-time low. So as a leader, how can you build trust to help unlock performance, potential and cultivate strong ‘workplace’ relationships with your people?
1. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
The most basic principle of trust is: do what you say you are going to do and lead by example. Be a role model. So, as a leader, stay true to that, and a trusting relationship will naturally start to form.
2. BE AUTHENTIC AND HUMAN
Ensure you know what makes your team tick by getting to know their strengths, goals and passions. Gallup research tells us that having someone at work ‘who cares about me’ gives people a much stronger sense of loyalty. I know for a fact that my boss, Carla knows my birthday without checking her calendar (that’s a secret) and she knows my niece’s name is ‘Maddy’. People work for people, so make time to bond, share stuff and have fun.
3. CURIOSITY MAKES US STRONGER
Be curious and learn from each other. Encourage a feedback culture which welcomes open and honest conversations between you and your team. Give the GIFT of feedback with the best intent and develop a curious mindset by listening to and learning from each other. As a leader, you must be open to this from your team too, so actively asking for feedback on how you can do better is essential to building a cohesive culture based on mutual trust and understanding.
So just to wrap things up, I’m not suggesting that you pile all your team onto a plane and fly them to the other side of the planet, but I do want to encourage you to shake off any ingrained old habits and start to build trust in a world that, let’s face it, is deeply untrusting.
Employee engagement depends on you building emotional bonds with your people and if they happen to live on the other side of the world, you just have to be a bit more intentional in your approach to building trust. Trust is not something you can force on people. It’s a feeling that develops in a variety of ways over time. So, start by leading, being human and curious. It’s amazing how ‘virtually’ alone I am, yet I still feel the warmth of my team beside me... even if they are fast asleep right now!