We spend a third of our days at work on average. This work environment can either enhance or diminish employee morale and productivity in your company. Learning how to build trust with employees can improve productivity, engagement, and confidence.
Trust in any organization works on three levels: at a company level in terms of culture, at a team level with regard to the relationships among the members, and at an interpersonal level between two people. You can’t always control the level of trust in your organization, but you can certainly influence it by building trust in your immediate work environment. Building trust with employees in a smaller unit where you have more control helps to propagate trust in the larger organization.
If an employee doesn’t trust their manager, the company suffers. Sure, ruling through fear works, but the employee will simply do the bare minimum amount of work needed to keep their job. Building trust with employees is key to beating your competition, not to mention increasing employee retention.
So how can managers build trust with employees and colleagues as well?
Here are 6 ways leaders at all levels can create a culture of trust in the workplace.
1.Building trust takes hard work
Trust must be earned. It comes from conscious effort to walk your talk, keep your promises and align your behavior with your values. Building trust is worth the effort because once trust is lost, it can be very difficult to recover.
2. Be honest and supportive
Even when it’s difficult, tell the truth and not just what you think people want to hear. Understand what employees need to know and communicate facts while being considerate of their effort and sensitive to their feelings. Showing support and understanding for your team members, even when mistakes are made, goes a long way in building trust as a leader.
Actively listen and check for understanding by paraphrasing what you’ve heard. Use a variety of feedback tools to ensure everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard. You must engage in dialogue with employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and voice concerns. Then, apply what your internal stakeholders share for future actions.
4. Be consistent
Consistently doing what you say you’ll do builds trust over time – it can’t be something you do only occasionally. Keeping commitments must be the essence of your behavior, in all relationships, day after day and year after year.
5. Model the behavior you seek
Nothing speaks more loudly about the culture of an organization than the leader’s behavior, which influences employee action and has the potential to drive their results. If you say teamwork is important, reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions. Give credit when people do great work and you’ll set the stage for an appreciative culture.
6. Build in accountability
When you and other leaders acknowledge your mistakes as well as successes, employees see you as credible and will follow your lead. You can encourage honest dialogue and foster accountability by building in processes that become part of the culture, such as an evaluation of every project (positives, negatives, things to change) or a status report and next steps in each meeting agenda (tracking deadlines and milestones).
You build and maintain trusting relationships and a culture of trust in your workplace one step at a time through every action you take and every interaction you have with your coworkers and employees. Trust may be fragile, but it has the capacity to grow strong over time with the deliberate efforts above. Check out the many benefits trust brings to a workplace.
10 Benefits of Building Trust in the Workplace
- Trust is good for morale and motivation.
- Trust builds teamwork and collaboration.
- Trust produces increased speed, improved efficiency and hence, decreases costs.
- Trust empowers ethical decision-making.
- Trust increases loyalty and the willingness to stay with a company.
- Trust decreases stress levels and hostility in the work environment.
- Trust overcomes resistance to change.
- Trust breaks down corporate silos and isolating behaviors.
- Trust is a gateway to persuasion, sharing and developing ideas.
- Trust is a key ingredient to coaching and improving employee performance.
Are You Building a Culture of Trust?
Ask yourself these questions to assess your personal behavior and learn how to create an awareness of the daily practices that encourage a culture of trust in your workplace.
- Am I listening to my employees and seeking their ideas, suggestions and opinions?
- Am I open to employee ideas and including those ideas in the decision-making process?
- Am I setting and communicating consistent expectations regarding team and individual performance objectives?
- Do I tell employees the truth and follow through by doing what I say I am going to do, even when it is difficult?
- Am I treating everyone with the same dignity and respect that I expect and would like to receive, without revealing bias, judgment or personal favoritism?
- Are my own career goals or a personal agenda interfering with my team's performance and my commitment to my employees' success?
- Do I demonstrate concern and caring for each individual employee, work group and department?
- Do I set a good example and conduct myself in a manner consistent with the mission, vision and values of the organization?
To put it simply, if you haven’t earned your employee’s trust, you aren’t empowering your employees to help grow your business. Contact us today to learn how you can build a high-trust, high-performance culture.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.