Episode 133: Trust in Action

Trust and Delegation: A Delicate Balance

When you first begin working with a new team member, you don’t automatically trust them. You may have confidence in their ability based on what they’ve told you they can do, but that’s not the same as trust.

So how do you grow to trust them?

It’s quite simple – you begin by delegating. 

It’s similar to falling in love. You don’t go on a date once you start to fall in love. You go on a date to fall in love.

It’s important to build trust over time with an effective delegation plan with each new team member.

And I’ll show you how…


In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • How NOT to delegate and why it’s crucial to understanding how to build trust effectively
  • How failure plays a part in delegation
  • The difference between trust and confidence
  • How to set realistic expectations when delegating


Featured on the Show:

The Elevate Effect™


Hey everyone, and welcome back to the podcast. I don't know about you, but in our household we are transitioning from spring to our summer schedule. And that means lots of changes in activities for our kids. The fact that our kids are out of school and home during the day, and it's just a big transition. It always is, and it's a really good one. But I think it's the perfect opportunity to talk about delegation and to revisit how to delegate. Well, I know some of you struggle with delegation, and I think that's because of a lack of trust in your team. And so I really today want to talk more about trust and how to delegate in a way that builds trust.

Trust is a critical component of effective delegation and leadership. But many business owners mistake that to mean that trust should be a prerequisite for delegating. And then what I see that happens from there is you all delay getting support or using the support you have from your team, even though you desperately need that support in order to grow your business. Because you can't do everything yourself, and yet you also feel like you can't let go. You can't get it off of your plate for good. And I want to talk to you about how to make that happen. So here's what you need to understand. Rather than waiting for complete trust before empowering your team, you'll actually build trust over time by taking action, by delegating in a way that builds trust.

Trust is very similar to love. You don't wait to go out on a date until you're completely in love. In fact, for most of us, spending time together, going out on those dates is what facilitates falling in love. Likewise with trust, delegation is the process that facilitates building trust, at least when delegation is done well. So some of you might be thinking, wait a minute, I have delegated before, and I ended up trusting the person less. There are a few reasons why that might be the case, and I want to dive into those today. Because when you understand how not to delegate, in other words, when you understand how to delegate in a way that actually does not build trust, then you'll understand more about what it takes to build trust.

Okay, so the first thing that I want to talk about is the fact that many business owners approach delegation while mistaking confidence with trust. There is a big difference between confidence and trust. Sometimes you can have an inflated level of confidence in something that doesn't actually mean that you should have confidence, right? You can feel like a person is going to do an incredible job. They could maybe have said all of the perfect things in an interview when they were hired. They could tell you that they have loads of experience with something, and yet that still doesn't mean that they'll be successful. You might have confidence in them, but you don't have trust. The difference is trust is confidence. That has been tested.

Now, I did an episode on this a while ago. It was called tested confidence. And in that episode I was really focused on your confidence in yourself, in your strategy, that kind of thing. Here we're going to talk about team, but the exact same thing applies. So it'd be helpful to go back and listen to that episode through the lens of your team and believing in what is possible for them. Okay? So here's the thing. When you start working with a team member, you have that inflated level of confidence. You believe that they're going to do an amazing job and you tend to over delegate.

You tend to believe that they're going to do such an incredible job that you don't expect failure. You actually go into it instead expecting perfection. Here's the thing. Failure is normal, and failure is necessary because your team members need to learn there's a difference in them coming in and knowing how to do something, even if they are experienced and knowing how to do it for you. In a way that meets your standards, that works with your clients, that works well for your business, that follows the systems that you have in place. There is a difference. And so you need to plan for training. You can't go in expecting perfection because when you do, you're setting yourself up for disappointment later.

Because what's going to happen is you over delegate mistake that for trust because you have confidence and then you're disappointed. You're disappointed when they don't get the result that you wanted. And so instead, let's go into it more realistically. Let's expect failure from the beginning. The second reason why delegation might lend itself to less trust is because you've actually handed off too much too fast. Instead of starting small, you threw everything at the person. Again, maybe because of the inflated trust or maybe you just were in a rush to get things off of your plate. I know that there's such a relief when you finally have support and sometimes you get everything off of your plate.

But then what happens is they can't handle all of the work. They can't handle all of that amount of either information or new processes or just maybe they don't have the capacity to do it all and therefore they fail. But they fail in a way that isn't expected. And so it's not actually in a way that builds trust. It's in a way that breaks trust. And you begin to pull back responsibility. You take pieces off of their plate little by little and add it back to your plate. That's not what we want, right? We want to build trust.

And so instead you need to use a gradual release of responsibility where you start small. I'll give you an example of this. Let's say you hire someone to help out with sales on day one. You could just give them a goal that you want them to generate X dollars in revenue and then you send them off to do it. The thing is, even if they have sales experience, if you haven't done your job giving them proper training and if you haven't gotten aligned on the strategy that you want them to use or what your offers entail what? Your clients pain points are all of that, then they might go out and try to do things in a way that isn't successful or that actually does more harm than good. And so you break trust and you begin to pull back that responsibility because you're thinking, they're not hitting their goals, this isn't working. And you blame them. You blame the team member for not doing a good enough job when in fact it was you as a leader who didn't set them up to succeed.

So instead we'll use a gradual release of responsibility and instead of handing everything off to them immediately, we break it down into smaller pieces. Maybe they start their onboarding with you by attending sales calls with you and they just watch. Maybe they even don't attend to start. They just watch recordings of your sales calls. You want to go with something that's lower risk, right, to get them started and get them acquainted with what they need to do. But then they begin to take little steps forward. So let's say that they did just watch recordings. Then they attend the sales call and hear what's going on and even maybe begin to ask some questions and participate. 

Then maybe they take over the sales call and you attend. You attend so that you can listen and you can jump in and help. If they get stuck, then they take the step of doing the call in a way that is completely on their own. But they record the call so that you can watch and give them feedback. And then they're trusted to handle the calls completely. And that's just for handling the sales call. Then maybe there are additional responsibilities that need to be passed over to them as well. What do you do to follow up on those sales calls? What do you do to onboard someone when they say, yes, there are all of those different pieces that you could just, day one say, okay, this is your responsibility, go generate sales. 

Or you could break it down. We want to break it down into those smaller pieces and gradually release responsibility because that is what builds your trust in them. It is what helps them succeed. And you can see that they are successful. Little by little they succeed at one thing and then you add on versus you hand them all of the things they fail and so you start to try to pull back responsibilities. We want to slowly confirm that they can handle things and add to it versus having to ever pull back. Okay, the third thing that I want to talk about here is abdication versus delegation. I'm sure I have touched on this before, but it is worth repeating here.

This is a big factor in building trust. When you abdicate, you step away. So you hand over responsibility, but you hand over complete responsibility. And this is a little different than handing off all of the work. It's handing off all of the responsibility and ownership and then you step away and do not help. You don't check in, you don't provide training, you don't provide accountability. You just completely step away and ignore what's being done until there comes a point where many of my clients have come to me and said, okay, I handed off this thing. I thought it was going well.

And then I found out it's not. It's actually a huge problem and this is going to cost us tremendously, right? And so they start to spell out what happened and I can see that they put blinders on and they completely stepped away and ignored, they ignored that whole facet of their business. Instead, I want you to stay involved. And this is the difference in when you get started with someone and you don't trust them, maintaining trust in yourself. You trust yourself to own the outcome. You trust yourself to follow up, to provide the training, to ensure that the right steps are taken. So you might not trust the individual completely, but rather than blindly having confidence, that inflated confidence we talked about and handing it over and walking away and instead of just setting them up to fail, you focus on the fact that it is your responsibility and that you trust yourself. Even if they fail with certain tasks, you are going to ensure that overall the project is successful.

So this is where the quote that's something along the lines of you can lose the battle but win the war, or you might have lost the battle, but we're going to win the war, or something like that, right? Whatever that quote is, that's coming to my mind right now. I hope you've heard it and I want you to apply that here. You can expect failure from your team on the small things. You can allow that. You can give them the opportunity to learn and grow in a way that has minimal risk and walk into it expecting that. So that you don't have any break in trust because you expected it, you knew it was going to happen. And yet you still maintain trust in yourself for overseeing this whole process as a manager and as a leader, so that you know that you're going to win the war. You go into it knowing, okay, I'm going to give them the opportunity to go out and battle, but I'm still in charge here and I'm going to make sure that we win this war.

There's a big difference and I hope that that helps give you some context as to how you still need to maintain responsibility. I feel like I should make that a little bit clear and so I want to dig into it a little bit more here for you and say maintaining ownership means that you stay involved. And that doesn't mean that you do the work. It doesn't mean that you micromanage. What it does mean is that you get aligned on what's expected. You give them space to go try to do it on their own, but you always circle back and hold them accountable. And you coach and train and then realign and give them another opportunity. And it's this cycle that we talk about a lot.

It's our framework for managing and getting great results from your team and that is alignment, autonomy and accountability. This is the process we teach our clients to get better results. And so I want to leave you with that and make sure that you understand that maintaining ownership means that you understand that you still have a role. You have the role to manage results and manage your people. And so you're not focused on doing the work, but you are focused on alignment, autonomy, accountability. Okay? So here is what I want you to do. I want you to stop waiting to delegate until you've built trust. If there's something that you're holding back on, you're holding on too tightly. 

You think, no one else can do this, I can't hand this off, I can't trust my team to do this, then you are going to have that on your plate forever unless you start taking action and delegate in a way that builds trust. You don't have to trust someone first. You build trust through action, through small steps, right? You start small. Give that gradual release of responsibility so that trust builds over time. By anticipating failure and planning to train, know that they are going to make mistakes. That's normal. You are going to stay involved. You're going to maintain ownership so that you can not just train them, but you can hold them accountable, give them feedback and help them improve.

Okay? So this is how you build trust through delegation. You take action, trust in action. Not waiting to take action until you trust. All right, that's what I've got for you this week. If there's something you're holding back on, I want you to think about how you can take a next small step towards getting it off of your plate. Delegation doesn't have to look like huge blocks of time or huge responsibilities that you hand over. You can start small. In fact, I think it's better and more sustainable to start small. 

Okay, I will see you next week.

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