Team members at work want the same things we all want in every aspect of life.

What your team wants - control and trust
Leaders, your team desperately wants to be trusted and to control their own destiny. Here’s how to make those happen. (Tweet That)

I want to be trusted. I want my boss to believe in me and trust my judgment.

Replace the word “boss” with “spouse” or “parents” and the sentence above is still true. The leader-team member relationship is no different from any other relationship.

I want to control my own destiny. I want to have a voice in my career.

Replace the word “career” with “marriage” or “education” and the sentence is still true. We all want a sense of control and we all want a voice.

We’re continuing this series on the 8 Things Your Team REALLY Wants with part three today:

To be trusted and to control their own destiny. 

And we’ll continue to use Simon’s company as an example. If you missed parts one and two, the links are below. Make sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get posts via email (and get my free book as a bonus) so you don’t miss the last installment coming up.

Part One: Fair Pay and the Right Resources

Part Two: Creating a Clear Vision and Setting Realistic Expectations

Now, for the fifth and sixth things your team really wants.

5. To be trusted

You’re paying them fair. They have the right resources. You’ve given them a vision and set realistic goals. Great.

Now get out of the way!

Seriously, step aside. Give them the freedom to do what you hired them to do.

This means trusting them. It means allowing them to do things their way. It means giving up control.

Micromanaging is just a fancy way of saying “I don’t trust you.” “My way or the highway” is the single dumbest way to lead people.

When you choose to trust, guess what happens? People fail. People lie. People cheat you. People do stupid things. They will make mistakes. They will cost you money.

And you…and they…will also grow.

More times than not, they will succeed. Wildly.

More times than not, they will be truthful.

More times than not, the failures will be small and not costly.

Every time…every single time…you trust, you will grow as a leader and your team will grow as individuals and as a team. They will grow in the role you have them in now and they will grow as potential leaders.

Simon and his executive team were unknowingly distrustful of their VPs and managers. They were micromanaging them to death. It was one of the biggest reasons they were leaving in droves.

Key takeaway: Your team wants to be trusted, so you have a choice. You can choose to trust them and watch them grow or you can do it your way and stifle their growth.

6. Control of their own destiny

Your team wants control over their lives.

When Your Team Says You Suck - How to Get, Give, and Use Feedback for Leaders
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Some managers and leaders call the days of clocking in and clocking out and ruling with an iron fist “the good ol’ days.” Well, cowboy, those days are gone.

Today’s employees want control over their lives. They want to be able to attend their kids’ ballgames and take a long lunch when the situation requires. And they want control over their careers.

Simon and his executive team would move people around like pieces on a chessboard. Their VPs and managers that made it long enough were often moved to new roles with no input from them at all. Simon thought a “promotion” and more pay was what everyone wanted. The truth is that some leaders just wanted to continue what they were doing with their teams to completion. They wanted to see the fruits of their labor.

Simon and his team actually did a great job of giving their teams freedom in their personal lives. There was no clocking in or out. But many companies do fail in that area.

There seems to be some great mystery to knowing what people want in their careers. But there is a secret to knowing this information.

The secret to knowing what your team members want is…

Ask them.

Hold one-on-one meetings with them and ask them where they want to go in their career. Ask them if their personal lives are suffering as a result of work. Ask them what you can do to help them get more control over their lives.

Key takeaway: You can’t make career choices for your team. Get consistent input from them and use that to give them some control over their destiny.

Simon and his executive team stopped micromanaging and they began holding regular one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. From these, they learned how to give their VPs and managers even more freedom…and they are thriving as a result.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the last two things your team really wants:

Inside information (open leadership) and the right teammates

Question: Are trust and controlling your destiny at work important to you? Have you ever felt untrusted or out of control at work?

13 thoughts on “Attention Leaders: Your Team is Begging to be Trusted & Have Control

  1. Bill Benoist /Leadership Heart says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am enjoying your list this week and today’s post especially resonated with me because they are both spot on for my career. Above all else, I want to be trusted (and fortunately for the past 17 years I have been I). Try to micro-manage me and I am out the door.

    Second point is one-to-one conversations. I have been doing that for years now. I have 10 direct reports and schedule 30 minute one-to-ones monthly – call it their “me time” The agenda is open and they decide how they wish to show up. its really a great way to keep your team engaged.

    1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      Bill, you’re a great example! I’ll bet those meetings pay exponentially in moral, trust and team unity!

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is great Bill. I did them weekly so the agenda was a bit more structured, but I always said that if anyone’s time would go long, it should be theirs. I think I only violated that rule once and it was an extreme circumstance.

  2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Oh boy! These two are HUGE!! Not having these two things is probably the single largest reasons I became miserable at my previous jobs!!

    Nothing is more demoralizing than feeling like you’re being babysat and not trusted!!

    Great post buddy!

    1. Steve Pate says:

      Baby sat is a great term Mark. Man I hate that, but like yesterday’s post, not having direction is just as bad.

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        You’re right! The key is providing direction in a manner that respects the dignity and intelligence of the other person.

  3. Steve Pate says:

    Man I love having the freedom away from the time card. I focus on priority projects and give them the time it takes to get them done right and well. The slippery slope is making sure you make boundaries or trip wires to make your self accountable to the time your expected to fill.

    My new assistant came from a union/time card regiment, all I need to say, its been fun seeing him come into freedom of the time card chains and he is a rock star for our team!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is awesome that you give him that freedom. I am sure he will thrive because of it!

  4. Kate | EntrepreneurOnFire says:

    Hi Matt! Great series of posts thus far – I look forward to tomorrow’s. You’ve really hit on some amazing traits that every leader should possess (if they want to be viewed as a true leader, that is). Each of your key takeaways sums up the bigger idea so well. Thanks for this!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Thanks Kate. Personally I feel tomorrow’s is the best but they all tie together.

    2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

      I’ve loved the posts as well Kate!…and Matt’s obviously a marketer–because he’s left us hanging every single day–needing to come back and read the next day’s post!

      I know his tricks…haha

      1. Kate | EntrepreneurOnFire says:

        @marksieverkropp:disqus so true! 🙂 But I love that we know it, and we still want it. Now THAT’S talent!

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Right! That darn Matt! Selling good content for the cost of my time!

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