Does your team trust you? I’m not talking about the type of trust where if they don’t, lives will be lost (i.e. pathfinding over treacherous terrain). I’m asking do they trust you in the day-to-day decisions you make as a manager?

  • Exceptions they witness you make for a customer, but then see no exceptions for other customers
  • How you handle scheduling requests from the team
  • How you model your work ethic
  • How you represent your team among your colleagues and supervisors

Make no mistake here – your team is watching your actions and hearing your words.

Stephen M.R. Covey in his book, “The Speed of Trust”, explains how trust can improve or the lack of trust can destroy your effectiveness as a leader. Quite simply put, Covey says the following:

High Trust = Things get done Faster/Better + Costs Decrease

and the flip side says:

Low Trust = work slows down + costs rise

Which environment are you creating?

We’ve all seen the negative effects of a low-trust department or organization. In my own company, we had a high level executive promoted to a higher level. He was a proven sales leader. He got the numbers. But it was how he got the numbers that became the problem. He lied often. He tore people down rather than build them up. He led by fear and intimidation. No one trusted him. His teams were stressed out and looking to escape.

Fortunately, our top executives saw this happening. They took the courageous step to remove this person from our corporation. They placed values over results. Note: it’s been nearly 4 years since this executive was let go. We are putting up record growth numbers today. It took other courageous actions, but I’ll talk about that at a later time.

So how do you build high trust in your team (high trust of YOU)?

* Communicate – let your team know what is happening in your company and how they fit in to the vision/mission.

* Be Visible – spend significant time in your department. Get out of the corner or “upstairs” office and get among your team. Listen to them as they interact with your customers and other company team members. You’ll learn so much doing this!

* Ask for Input – seek your team’s ideas on how your department/company can improve. They have been thinking about it! And they can have great ideas! When you use one of their ideas, give them credit for it!

* Cheerlead – when you talk about your team, are you their cheerleader? Or do you find yourself complaining about them? If it’s the latter, who is to blame…really…? If you can’t praise your team to others, find out why and make the necessary changes. That is your job! It’s far more fun to be a cheerleader!

* Lead by Example – this works every time. If your team sees you as lazy, indifferent, uncaring, unproductive, playing favorites, etc., guess what they will become? Speed of the leader, speed of the team is true!

* Care – your team is full of people. People with dreams, fears, goals, families, hurts, needs, and feelings. Care about them. You do not have to become their best friend (don’t even try!). But don’t be afraid to get to know them and allow them to get to know you. On Friday this week, I will be traveling to another department to spend time with someone who is going through a rough life experience – something I’ve gone through. His supervisor asked me if I would take the time to talk with this great young man since she knew I had gone through something similar. How did she know about me? We had talked and I opened up. My time this Friday will not be about the company, but I’ll get a chance to encourage a fellow team member from another department. I get the chance to show him that someone cares what he is going through. I think that is an investment worth making.

There are other ways you can build trust with your team. The point is this: you set the tone for trust in your department. What kind of environment are you creating everyday? High trust? Low trust?

Charging Your Batteries

The daily grind…what images/feeling/thoughts pop up when you read those 3 words. Fatigue? Depression? Arg? The daily grind tends to be a reality, but it doesn’t have to rule the day. Sure, we have to get up, get ready for work, commute to work, start working, head home to activities, etc. It’s our habit. It’s our routine.

How do you charge your batteries in the midst of the daily grind? How do you not get ground up in the grind?

Renew your mind.

Try these renewing activities to live above the daily grind that will help you find new purpose and new energy:

* Read. There are so many books and articles out there that will inspire you and motivate you to improve your coaching and leadership skills. Don’t just limit yourself to business books. Read books written by great sports coaches. There are tons of transferable ideas that you can implement in your own professional life.

* Listen to music. We all have our favorite musicians. Listen to the tunes that pick you up and energize you. Expand your musical tastes. Try Pandora Radio (app) and listen to music genres that are new to you.

* Exercise. Something as simple as walking for 20-30 minutes will make a big difference. Listen to music or the radio as you’re walking. Focus on your personal goals and dreams. Visualize where you are and where you believe you can grow to. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy treating your physical body to this natural energy boost.

* Spend time with positive people. Are there people at your office that lift your spirit just by talking with them? Do you have friends/family members like this? Then spend quality time with them. Be sure to thank them (in person, in a personal note) for how they positively impact you.

* Explore. Try something new. Begin writing a blog about something you are passionate about. Learn to play a musical instrument. Learn a new language. Volunteer in your community. Always be a learner.

Sometimes you need to take a detour in your daily grind. Make the time. You’ve got it – during your lunch time, waking up a bit earlier, watch less TV, etc. This is an investment in you.

The daily grind can feel like a long road, but there are always great stops along the way. Take the time to charge your batteries.


Please, No Drama!

If you’re like me, you hate drama.  Not the “Law & Order” kind of drama (I’ve always loved that show), but the kind of drama that rears its ugly head at work.

  • Destructive gossip that tears apart a group and leaves an individual’s self-esteem shredded
  • Making emotional mountains out of policy mole hills
  • Saying one thing in person, but then getting stabbed in the back when you’re not around
  • Getting “thrown under the bus”
  • Lying about another person which only ramps up negative energy

Who likes any of this?  You don’t.  I don’t.  Our teams don’t.  We all hate it.  But drama does happen.  And how can we effectively deal with this obstacle?

  • Don’t give them a stage.  If you know a person loves to drum up drama, don’t give them an audience.  Refuse to listen to them.  If they begin ranting about someone, just walk away.  Or maybe (if you’re courageous enough), confront the dramatist.

Talking point:  “Since you aren’t this person’s direct supervisor, this isn’t appropriate talk.  If you care enough about this individual you’re talking about, go to their supervisor and share your concerns with them.”  The dramatist will most likely ignore this suggestion, but they will be quiet around you.

  • Be a control freak. I mean this in a good way.  You are the manager.  Manage your environment.  It is perfectly right to inform your staff that you won’t tolerate back-stabbing gossip among your team.  This means when you hear it, stop it.  It can be draining, but you need to stop this negative behavior every time you hear it.  Eventually, your team will come to realize that you are serious.

Talking point:   “You know this person you are talking about?  They report to me – just like all of you do.  It is my responsibility to address issues with them.  This isn’t your job.  If you would like to talk with me about your own performance, I’m all ears.  Otherwise, this conversation is over.” If the dramatist insists on this conversation, then be a broken record and keep repeating this talking point.  Folks will eventually scatter at this.

  • Be the solution, not the problem.  If you hate drama, then don’t create it.  Don’t get sucked up into the vortex of negative talk.  Even if it comes to you, refuse to participate.  You are the leader.  Lead by example.

Talking point:  “Hey, this isn’t appropriate for us to discuss.  Let’s get back to work.”

  • Speak the truth.  Nothing kills productivity, morale, and trust like lying.  If you allow this to creep in, you will destroy trust among your team.

Talking point:  “What you are saying is not true.  I know better, and I believe most everyone here knows better.  What you are saying is more harmful than helpful.  Before you get yourself in trouble, you need to stop.”  When your team knows that this is how you deal with hurtful speech, you will gain trust and respect from them.

You can create your work environment.  The goal is not to get the team to become best friends.  The goal is to have a professional atmosphere where obstacles to effective results are reduced or eliminated.  Anyone on your team can be pleasant and professional.  Everyone on your team deserves to have a safe workplace.  It is your responsibility to maintain this kind of workplace.


Having a good day as a manager can be somewhat easy. String together a week of good results? Doable. But what sets apart the leaders from the pack is momentum.

Build on your success continually. Don’t be satisfied with yesterday. When you surpass a goal, find something to tweak. Look at your job from a different angle. Develop customer’s eyes – see your business as they do. You will learn something!

You cannot keep momentum going on our own for your team. Get them involved! Share the numbers. Make sure they understand the numbers! Communicate your progress. Expect their input and challenge them to think.

Gravity provides the momentum for a run-a-way train roaring down a mountain side. In business, the leader provides up the momentum. Most people will eventually coast. You, the effective leader-manager, keeps the goals in sight and motivates and inspires the team to accomplish more than they can imagine.

At the beginning of a new week (day?), find ways to keep on rolling.


Communicate, then Communicate Again

If your staff is like my staff, they like to know what is going on.  Sure, my company has intranet sites where information is posted, news is found, etc.  We are even moving to a SharePoint system soon that is designed to improve communication throughout the company.  But I learned a long time ago that my staff wants to hear from ME.

Part of my staff’s responsibilities lie in generating new loan growth.  So I communicate about our goals and their progress.  I share with them ideas to try as they engage our customers.  I share the truth about our numbers.  I share the ramifications of us not hitting our numbers.  I try to inspire them to stretch and attempt something new.  I challenge them to think and to innovate.

And you know what?  They do!  I had a lengthy late evening conversation just last night after an all-employee meeting.  One of my staff members wanted to share how proud she was to work in our department and what all they have accomplished (they have done a remarkable job in the past 6 months – record-breaking!).  We talked about ways we could make small changes and tweaks to find improvements.  She was really into it.

I talked with another staff member this afternoon and he shared with me that he and 2 other team members have been meeting to come up with ways to improve their cross-sell opportunities and to remove obstacles for our customers.  I didn’t tell them to do that.  Their supervisor didn’t.  They own it and do it!

Did this just all magically happen?  No.  My staff has continually thanked me for keeping them in the know.  They have thanked me for showing them the “story behind the numbers”.  They appreciate being educated on how our business truly works and their role in making us successful.  They love understanding the purpose behind their daily job duties.

This is all communicated to them regularly by me and my management team.

I could have a team of one – me.  I’ve chosen to have a team of many who are all focused on the same goal, with similar drives and a passion to take care of our customers.  This is all done through communicating regularly with them.

Communicate via email.  Send a hand-written note of appreciation to team members who are really showing ownership.  Spend time on the floor with the team observing them, listening to them, challenging them.  Brag about your team – word gets around that you do this (and your team will love it!).

Keep your team in the know and then watch them grow!

Retention and the Conductor

Why is retaining a good staff important?  Here are some answers to that:
  • Any changes that occur in the company can be made more nimbly with an experienced staff
  • Customer satisfaction can be higher
  • Results are achieved
  • Stress can be reduced
  • Cross-training occurs
Simply put, if you are fully staffed, you can more easily focus on the things that will move your department/company forward vs living in moments of crisis when someone calls in sick or during vacations, etc.  What environment do you want to live in?
You probably are a qualified, talented performer on your own.  That’s how you got to be where you are today.  You love to excel.  What if you could multiply who you are?  You can!
Think about an orchestra conductor.  This person loves music and is a musician in their own right.  They love to make music.  But put that conductor on the pedestal, give them a baton, and presto!  They work with violinists, cellists, trumpeters, drummers, oboists, etc.  All of these instruments have a critical role in making a piece of music come to life – something that audiences (customers) want to listen to.  An effective conductor cannot afford to have the French horn section missing. The performance would be lacking.
But when the full orchestra strikes that first note, something beautiful and moving happens.  One conductor creates wonderful music with the force of many.  The conductor on his/her own can’t play all of the instruments, but each musician plays their part at the right time to make the magic happen.
What kind of tune are you producing in your “orchestra”?
Strive to keep your “band” together.  Enjoy the experience of conducting your team to excellence.  Let them know that their part in the music is critical for the overall success of your department and company.  Encourage them to develop in their role.  Do your part to make them better.  Praise them for their great performance.
Retention can be a beautiful thing!

How to Get Your Boss’s Attention

As a manager, there are many times that you need to capture the attention of your boss:

  • You need some help with an issue.
  • You want to increase your staffing.
  • You want to purchase new equipment.
  • You want a raise

The list could go on…

Have you ever found yourself calling a colleague (or your spouse) to whine about how your boss doesn’t listen or pay attention or is never there when you want them to be?  Getting your boss’s attention starts far earlier than most of us realize.  Here are some pointers to help you get heard:

  1. Get Results. If you are not performing…if you are not meeting expectations…if you are missing your goals, then you have your boss’s attention for all of the wrong reasons.  If you want to be heard on what you believe are the truly important issues, then you had better be performing.
  2. Help Them.  Believe it or not, your boss faces his/her own challenges.  Become a trusted resource for them.  Offer to help them with a project.  Listen to them as they talk about what they have on their plate.  If you can take some of that work off of it, you become more valuable to your boss.
  3. Make Them Look Good.  This is closely related to #1.  When you exceed your numbers, your boss looks good.  When your team discovers an efficiency and communicates it out to the company resulting in operational cost cutting, your boss looks good.  When make a positive impact in your community, your boss looks good.
  4. Listen to Them.  Your boss maybe feeling the same way you are.  Be an active listener and help come up with solutions to issues that your boss is facing.  You’ll learn something in this process.

Your boss is human.  You can go far when you employ some or all of these pointers.

Caution:  if you approach your boss with insincerity or a manipulative spirit, it will be revealed.  Integrity says to be genuine in your interactions with your boss.  It will pay off.