The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “How do you build trust with employees when you’re the new boss?” is written by Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LA.
Being the “new boss” doesn’t come without challenges, especially when you’re stepping into a pretty well-established company.
I know this from experience. I’ve been at my current agency for more than 13 years, but as is standard for any organization, I’ve seen my fair share of transitions. In 2015, I had my own in becoming president of Deutsch’s Los Angeles office. Through it, I’ve learned that when you’re the new boss, it’s definitely give-and-take. You need to make sure you’re able to accomplish what you were brought in to do, while taking cues from the successes the company has already had.
While taking on a new leadership role is a big step for you, it requires a lot from your people, too. There can be tension and stress all around, as change always disrupts the balance.
As you seek to build trust with your new team, it’s all about opening the lines of communication. Here are a few ways to do that:
Share more than you think you should
Information is currency, and transparency is everything. Often, there’s an inherent fear of new leadership, assuming they’ll want to take control of everything and change the system that, in many cases, has been working well. The more employees know about your plans, the more open and less anxious they’ll be to receiving them. One way to do this is by establishing a “no BS” policy. Let people know early on that they’ll get the straight scoop from you—good or bad. Make them feel invested in that information and empower them to bring ideas and solutions to the table.
Take a walk around the office—every day
Having an open-door policy sounds great, but when you’re the new boss, people may not feel comfortable popping by. Being in a leadership role has the unexpected outcome of being surprisingly isolating. It’s your job to solve for that. Take the initiative and do a regular walk around the office so your presence is felt. It reminds people that you’re right there with them, sometimes in the trenches, but sometimes just as a colleague and friend. It makes it easier to connect with (and trust) a new leader when you have a window into his or her personality. I’m known in my office for occasionally walking around without shoes on…
Establish expectations on both sides
This is one of the most important things you’ll do as the new boss. It’s vital that your employees know exactly what you expect of them, and maybe more importantly, what they should expect from you. My brother is a coach and a teacher, and he always taught me that the biggest gift you can give is to teach people how to anticipate your reaction. When employees aren’t second-guessing their place on your team and have a clear understanding of your vision, it establishes a mutual sense of trust. They know where they fit into your larger plan, and how you plan to achieve it.
Change can be intimidating on both sides, but what I’ve learned throughout my career is that it can be mitigated through open, transparent lines of communication. When employees feel your genuine effort to involve them in the decision-making process, it makes them feel invested in you (and you in them). Your best asset as a new leader is employees with an open mind.