Workplace trust is something felt most acutely in its absence. A lack of trust between employees and company leadership can lead to discontent, high turnover and a lack of motivation. A highly trusting environment, on the other hand, inspires innovation, dedication and overall satisfaction. If your company sounds more like the former, it might be time to take steps toward building more trusting relationships.
Embrace Painful Honesty
When you deal with business uncertainty or negative financial situations, it can feel painful to maintain honest communication with staff. Employees can sense when company leadership is holding back or concealing the truth, however, and may immediately ascribe malicious motives. To create and maintain workplace trust, it is essential to be honest, particularly when your listeners won't like what you have to say. A pattern of open, transparent communication assures workers that they won't be blindsided or left in the dark.
In all industries, situations arise in which it's easier or more profitable not to do the right thing. When employees see you lying, cutting corners or being underhanded with clients and vendors, it's only natural for them to assume that you behave the same way with your staff. As a result, they may doubt all of your words and motives. True workplace trust exists when you conduct all business and interpersonal dealings with integrity, even when — or especially when — it puts you or the company at risk. Above-board dealings also show a willingness to acknowledge and learn from your mistakes, which encourages your workers to do the same.
Micromanagement is the enemy of innovation and creativity. If you find yourself overly involved in the minutiae of everyday tasks, take a step back, and allow your employees to use the skills and expertise for which they were hired. By allowing workers to exercise autonomy as they devise solutions, you demonstrate the most powerful form of workplace trust. You can also reduce your own workload, take advantage of the team's collective wisdom and clear the path for new, profitable ideas.
Put Yourself on the Line
As an employer or manager, you often receive praise for your team's successes. On the flip side, you must also stay accountable for their mistakes. One of the fastest ways to build loyalty and workplace trust is to accept responsibility for poor team performance. If one worker tanks a project, don't throw him under the bus; instead, apologize, take the blame, and vow to pay closer attention the next time. This method proves that you look out for the good of the team rather than your own personal glory.
Workplace trust doesn't happen overnight — it develops when you display a pattern of positive behaviors. When your managers and executives are all on board, you can speed the process and create a supportive, open environment that benefits the business.
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