Trust. It’s a BIG word. In fact for any small business or team it’s the heart of success. How much do you trust your leader, the team and the process? Any distrust can lead to oodles more work, destruction and detraction. We sometimes underestimate the power of trust in the business world. However when an agency needs to rally together and be stronger than ever it’s a feeling we need to monitor closely to both survive and thrive.
Definition of Trust
Here is how Dictionary.com defines trust:
- reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
- confident expectation of something; hope.
But more importantly, what does trust mean? First of all, trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When a team member trusts you it means they feel you are reliable, they feel safe with you, and they believe what you say or lay out. Trust is a choice each person makes and it can be one sided. For example, you can trust a team member but they may not return that emotion.
Where Trust Breaks Down in Insurance Agencies
While there are different levels of trust for many team members they aren’t truly trusting of their leader and vice versa, many agency leaders are not truly trusting of the team. When we lack trust we can exhibit behaviors that can often detract us from loving and serving our clients. We are going to break down signs that a team member doesn’t trust management first.
How to Know If the Team Doesn’t Trust the Leader
- The team provides one word answers to new thoughts. Yes or No. There is not much discussion dialog or questions. People who trust their leader will engage in healthy discussions and debate and ultimately rally around the decision.
- Team members use the word I, instead of we. Teams that trust their leader see themselves as a unit rather than an individual.
- Mistakes are often hidden and addressing team members becomes personal and uncomfortable. There is not an open environment of being humble and learning from challenges.
- The team isn’t in tune with company values. The values of the company are often more words on a website than philosophies that are displayed. A quick tip is you can ask your team what the values of the company are and see if they can even name a few of them.
- Team members self manage. This means that they police themselves and each other rather than trusting leadership to champion accountability.
- You often see eyes roll or dismissive body language.
- You often hear “What you don’t understand is…….”
How to Know If the Leader Doesn’t Trust the Team?
- As a leader you find yourself constantly checking and double checking people’s work. It seems like you are the agency police not a leader.
- You have little faith they can handle changes or new initiatives so you stop trying to drive toward success.
- You, as the leader, dive into finish work, take work off their desk and don’t work to solve the root cause of problems.
- It’s common for you to listen and overhear what people are saying to try to find gaps in their work
- You rarely celebrate success and often focus on all the things not going well.
What Does This Mean?
If trust is not present you are all spending way too much time in your agency focused on managing a lack of trust. We just don’t have time for that!
How Your Agency Can Rebuild Trust To Move Forward
Let’s keep in mind that when trust is diminished both parties must be willing to move forward and help build a bridge! Here are some strategies to help refocus your time and energy toward rebuilding trust.
- Recognize that rebuilding trust takes time and it won’t be a light switch. Both parties must provide open and honest feedback. It will take some give and take on rebuilding bridges.
- Start with both parties admitting where the relationship got off track. Starting at the beginning and walk through where you are and how you felt. Work to put yourself in their shoes to see their point of view.
- Build a plan for moving forward. Take some baby steps toward working on the relationships, make a small commitment to work on something together.
- It’s OK to be vulnerable! When rifts happen, talk through them.
- Give praise and take blame. The sandwich method is a great opportunity to provide feedback. Start with praise, deliver the feedback and then end with praise.
The True Story Of Trust
Trust is everything in an agency. As a leader you need your team to trust your vision, leadership and direction. When asking people to trust you on a journey of change and new endeavors people often think of the worst case scenario. We are in insurance after all! If you can calculate all the time we spend massaging and convincing people to trust the process and we can reinvest that time into growth where do you think your agency would be?