In last week’s log article, “Remote work is here to stay,” I mentioned that a large increase in the number of remote workers is expected in the coming years due to the tenacity of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also mentioned that trust and respect will become even more important, and that I would provide some suggestions this week on how you can build that trust.

I should have also mentioned that corporate culture becomes more important as well since that is the foundation upon which trust, and respect are developed. Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors within the organization that determine how a company’s employees and management team interact and handle outside transactions with customers, suppliers, and the public. It is reflected in many things including dress code, business hours, perks, customer service, management style, employee relations, and so on.

Leaders who prioritize trust and respect are usually successful in reducing absenteeism, turnover, grievances – while improving productivity, cooperation, and attitude. But they must be backed by a company culture that supports their actions and beliefs. That is, are supportive, fair, honest, transparent, open minded, and creative, with a customer service-oriented approach to business.

Regardless of people’s track record, you must recognize that leaders are not necessarily the top performers. A common mistake still made by companies today is that they tend to promote the most productive salesperson or the most efficient staff member to a role of leadership. Leaders are coaches and guides, who clarify the company’s vision and goals, and organizes, directs, and motivates their employees to achieve these goals effectively and efficiently. Managers get things done through other people, but leaders coordinate these same people as a productive team and inspire them to perform at their best.

Leaders need followers. And people will only follow leaders willingly and wholeheartedly if they trust and respect them. Trust involves having complete confidence in the leader and his or her decisions. They never doubt that you always have their interests in mind as well as those of the company. They take you at your word. Respect means they admire you as a person as well as a leader. They hold you in high esteem because of who you are, and what you have accomplished, and how you treat others. Trust and respect go hand in hand, and you seldom have one without the other. So, the following suggestions involve both.

First and foremost, you must recognize that trust and respect is a two-way street. You cannot gain the trust and respect of your employees without first trusting and respecting them. The most obvious way to show trust is in the way you delegate. Delegation saves time and develops your employees. But it frequently fails because many leaders are too willing to back a task if it is not going well. Take the time to explain fully what is required of your employee, and then be willing to accept results that are not as good as you could have achieved yourself. Don’t over-supervise; allow a few mistakes and be willing to let your employees develop at their own pace. Be sure to delegate the authority as well as the responsibility. Don’t continually look over the employees’ shoulders, interfere with their methods, or jump on them when they make a mistake. Be prepared to trade short-term errors for long-term results.

Maintain control without stifling initiative. One of the bonuses you receive from effective delegation is that in many cases the job is done better in the hands of someone else. Don’t resent it, encourage it. Delegate the whole task for specific results, deemphasizing the actual procedure. Your employee, under less pressure, less harried, and with a fresh in viewpoint, will likely improve upon the method you’ve been using. Review results, not the way he or she arrives at them. You will find that proper delegation is an absolute necessity if you want to succeed with a mobile workforce. For a complete description of the delegating process, you might refer to my e-book, The Process of Delegation, published by Bookboon.

Be quick to listen, quick to compliment, slow to criticize and slow to become angry. Research shows that a person needs to hear five compliments before he or she can listen non-defensively to a criticism. You gain trust and respect by what you do, not just by what you say. So, what you do should always be consistent with what you say.

Communication is of the utmost importance. Be positive, approachable, and personable, not negative, nasty, and nonchalant. Personality is important, and if you have natural charisma, so much the better. A sense of humor works well, as does continual encouragement. When working with mobile workers, be sure to communicate frequently, preferably visually, with Zoom, Facetime or Skype.

Be honest, transparent, sincere, and be quick to own up to your own mistakes and equally quick to forgive others. Be patient. Trust and respect are not built overnight.