A key attribute of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to master their environment. The ability to navigate rapid changes in the marketplace, or changes in personnel, or disruptions in supply chains is where a business leader earns their keep. It is clear that so much seems beyond your control, that exercising control over the things we fool ourselves into thinking that we do control appears essential. It is no wonder that we can begin to become mini-control freaks.

However, the more we try to control the greater our stress in life and the more we put a ceiling on the development of the talent around us. To be able to loosen the chains of control we must be able to form an appropriate level of trust with the people we choose to collaborate with. In order to help us better understand the complex issue of trust it may be good for you to take a quick survey of trust. Below is an outline of 4 levels of trust in the workplace.

Level 1. Bring me the facts, I will decide: This low level of trust expects a minimal level of engagement and participation with the team member. This is appropriate for a new member of the team, but it does involve a level of trust. You begin the journey of building employee trust by having the expectation to bring relevant, and accurate facts.

Level 2. Bring me the facts, make a recommendation and we will decide: This level of trust should be achieved quickly with talent you are developing. It encourages a level of engagement and employee accountability that requires thought and analysis. It is at this stage that you will be able to diagnose the maturity, thinking processes and grasp of the talent you are wanting to establish a greater level of trust.

Level 3. Gather the information, make a decision and report back to me: This is the level of employee trust most team members in small business will ever achieve. If you have a diversity of team members able to operate at this level it is a good thing. However, if many of your team do not move beyond this level you will be overwhelmed by the amount of information and data being brought to you.

Level 4. Gather the information, make a decision, and no report necessary: This is a level of trust that allows us to be liberated from lower levels of tasks and responsibilities. When you achieve this level of trust with a team member it reflects the following facts: 1. You invested in a team member over time. 2. You create a culture of accountability. 3. You are both a person that can trust, and you lead trustworthy people.

What level of trust have you achieved with each member of your team?