I’m sure you’ve had a manager you didn’t trust.
Maybe that manager said she valued your time – but then canceled your 1:1 at the last minute because she just had to run out and get a smoothie.
Maybe he called you out in front of the team for a mistake he made. (Truly an unforgivable offense).
Whatever it was, you know that once trust is lost, it’s hard to get back.
So today, we’re going to dig into Michael Bungay Stanier’s three Cs of trust, a framework for building resilient, long-lasting relationships with your team.
The three Cs of trust
Trust has three crucial Cs: connection, competence, and consistency.
Connection is about how well you understand someone’s life, interests, and priorities. It’s about seeing them as a full human, not a sack of flesh who generates revenue for the company.
Quick: What’s your direct report’s husband’s name?
If you thought, “Err … it’s … something like Dave? Or Dan? It’s definitely a man’s name …” then you might have a problem with connection.
Competence is about how well you get your job done.
If working for an disconnected boss is demoralizing, working for an incompetent boss is basically infuriating. (I once had a boss who managed the copywriting department and did not know the difference between ‘latter’ and ‘ladder.’)
To assess competence, ask yourself:
- What’s your level of skill in each of the areas you work in?
- Which areas are a particular challenge for you?
- How honest are you about gaps in your ability?
You don’t have to be great at everything, as long as you can help your team understand and navigate your strengths and weaknesses.
When you say you’ll do something, do you do it? Or are you constantly promising to review a document, then forgetting about it completely and heading to happy hour with your own boss?
Consistency is important because your direct reports are depending on you. If you fail to show up, they’ll quickly learn they can’t trust your word and seek out other options.
How good are you at building trust?
It’s time to take a look in the mirror. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- What do you know about your teammate’s family? What are their names?
- What does your teammate like to do for fun on the weekends?
- What is your teammate’s biggest priority in their life?
- Did you celebrate your teammate’s last birthday?
- What are the areas of your job you’re best at?
- What are the areas of your job you’re worst at?
- Have you expressed your areas of weakness to your team and asked for help?
- In the last month, have you canceled a 1:1 with a team member (without being out of office)?
- How often are you late meeting a deadline for your direct report?
- How often do you give constructive feedback on your direct report’s work?
Click here to download this template to fill out with your team.
Tangible tips for building trust
So you just realized that you’ve been showing up 10 minutes late to 1:1s every week since the dawn of time.
That’s okay! Growth is a part of life. Here are some tips to get better at each of the three Cs:
How to build connection
- Start every meeting by asking, “How has your week been going?” or “How was your weekend?” and take notes on the answers. Then follow up on the items that seem important.
- Mark their birthday in your calendar and make sure to say “happy birthday!” first thing in the morning
- Indicate in meetings that you know their partner’s, pet’s, or children’s names – “How’s Abdallah's side hustle? What’s Spot been destroying lately?”
- Have regular meetings to ask about their career goals and priorities, then follow up with ideas for their growth
How to build competence
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Write down the top five things you’re not-so-good at.
- Acknowledge your weaknesses in a 1:1 with your team member – e.g., “I’m not so good at project management, so I really appreciate you keeping me honest on this deadline”
- Talk to your own manager about a plan to address your weaknesses
How to build consistency
- Keep on top of your to-do list, especially as it pertains to your direct reports. If you owe them something, do it first rather than pushing it down in favor of other priorities.
- Set a reminder five minutes before your 1:1 to make sure you’re not late
- Give regular, constructive feedback to your direct report so that they’re not surprised when they hear negative comments at their annual review
Want to learn more strategies for being a great manager? Check out The Complete Manager Sprint with Michael Bungay Stanier, enrolling now.