5 Ways to Overcome Impossible Peers
It is vital to have a tight network of trusted peers as, at times, it plays a key role in establishing your relationship with your boss and impacting your direct reports. But since this may not be a necessity, many people tend to overlook this powerful career elixir. Trust matters even more with your peers because no one’s “officially watching", so as to say.
There's no "official" accountability levers. It's easy to put them last on your trust-building priority list. Unfortunately, though, this attitude may hamper your career graph. The truth is, I was a slow learner in this regard. Your peers aren't evaluating you on an employee engagement survey, or writing your performance appraisal. Often they have competing agendas, and of course you know it's you against them in the stack rank.
So many of us buckle down, approach our peers with cautious pleasantries, and watch our backs. But the fact of the matter is that real trust develops when no one is watching...when you've got something to lose, and yet choose to be vulnerable.
5 Ways to Build Trust With Impossible Peers
As with any relationship it starts with you. Trust begets trust. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Be Transparent
Let your peers know what scares, bothers, upsets you, in short, what effects you. People trust those they can see. Share a vulnerability or two, and then wait and watch. In all probability the trust that you have placed in your peers will be reciprocated.
2. Give More Than You Receive
I can't tell you how many times I've gone into a company and seen two teams with the same objectives, doing the same work, both with best practices that they're completely keeping to themselves. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" attitude does not work. Show your great idea first without worrying about what comes next.
3. Take a Field Trip
I learned this from one of my seniors. His peers in the Finance Department were not approving contracts for a sub-set of our customers. To resolve this issue, my Southern District Manager got into his car and drove three hours for an old-fashioned visit.
They had some sweet tea, cleared up misconceptions, developed a streamlined communication protocol, and our acceptance rate for that market skyrocketed. These were qualified customers that "didn't look good on paper." But the paper didn't do them justice.
4. Lose a Battle
Not every issue is equally important. It is important to know which issue is worth going to the mat for then. A few concessions can gain you the reputation of being "easy to work with". When you really need something, they'll be more likely to trust your motives.
5. Lift Them Up
As a Customer Service Director, my friend Dan and I stumbled on this one by accident. We were peers (who were always stack ranked against one another), but we also realized we had different gifts. I'm embarrassed to admit, he went first. He rolled up his sleeves and helped me tremendously on the operations side. He even silently sat in on a few tough customer calls and privately messaged me with what to do while I was getting my sea legs.
I then came to his region and helped him attack his employee engagement issues. In every operations review we genuinely credited one another with our success. A high-tide rises all boats.
Don't overlook the importance of trust amongst peers. It's harder, it makes a difference, the big guys notice, and the relationships last a lifetime.
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