Trust matters in every aspect of our lives, including in the workplace. Consider your most troublesome work experiences. If you dig into where those problems began, it’s a likely bet that they were either rooted in distrust or perhaps created distrust. When distrust permeates a workplace, it creates tension, reduced productivity, and in many cases, dysfunction. Building trust in the workplace is critical.
Workplaces grounded in trust are workplaces that promote clear, honest communication. They consist of teams that work cohesively and rely on each other without question, as they know that everyone will collaborate and pitch in if things go off track. Trusting work environments allow employees to feel secure in raising new ideas and creating confident new leaders. Ultimately, organizations built on a foundation of trust are organizations destined for success.
How Trust Develops in the Workplace
Like most things, building trust starts at the top. These days, people don’t inherently trust one another, as genuine trust is earned, not awarded. Building trust takes time, and can be fostered through working together, team-building and aligning to core values. Take your company values, for example. These may be displayed proudly on your marketing collateral or even featured in your office space. However, if these values are not practiced and demonstrated by leadership, there will be little trust that those values mean anything. Ensure your company values are taken into account in all of your decision-making, and that these are a part of daily work life.
Trust can also be earned – or quickly lost – in challenging times. Observing how an organization navigates challenges, be they layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, or even scandals, can solidify how much an employee trusts that organization moving forward. If leadership chooses to ignore, skirt, or obscure the truth, employees will rarely find it in themselves to trust what leadership shares moving forward. If leaders own the issue, communicate honestly and openly, and share plans for how they are moving forward, employees are far more likely to trust that their leaders are authentic and well-intentioned.
Four Ways to Build Trust Within Your Team Now!
1. Build Connection. One of the easiest ways for leaders to earn the trust of their teams is to demonstrate an interest in them as a person. This often starts by ensuring your team members know about you too. Do you have kids at home or a new puppy? Share that with your team and allow them to share common experiences. If you have an employee who is getting married or going through a loss, be sure to check in and make sure they know you’re aware and supportive. Building connections begins with sharing more of yourself and ensuring your teams know that you understand they’re more than just their work.
2. Promote Transparency and Accountability. As a leader, promoting honesty and transparency at all levels of an organization is paramount to building trust. This can be as simple as owning up to a mistake or sharing how you wish you had done something differently. Be vulnerable – show your teams that you understand that you’re not perfect and that you recognize failures as an opportunity for growth. This will ensure your team will not only be comfortable owning up to mistakes, but also ensuring they know that making mistakes is a natural part of the process. Failure is a learning opportunity, and it’s expected now and again.
Transparency is even more important in the face of extreme adversity. Focus on accountability and communication during challenging times, and your employees will be more willing to accept the results. As wisely shared by HBR, “Share as much as you can about the current health and future goals of the company. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself constantly battling the rumor mill.”
3. Be a Cheerleader! Providing your team with support and encouragement will not only be appreciated but it will also be reciprocated. You will earn the trust of your staff when you focus on recognizing their contributions. In turn, staff will become comfortable with celebrating the success of others, and supporting their leadership as well. Supporting your team during the successes and the challenges will ensure they know that you have their backs as a leader, and they’ll be equally willing to do the same for you.
4. Give Credit When Credit is Due. A quick way to erode trust within your team is to assume credit for the work of others or allow contributions to be inappropriately attributed. If you’re given praise for an idea that isn’t yours, actively ensure your team member is given the credit. This will reflect positively on you as a leader of a team producing good ideas, and ensure your teams understand that you want their contributions recognized. Doing the opposite will not only erode trust but prevent team members from sharing ideas out of fear of that idea being misappropriated.
Trust can be eroded far more quickly than it will be earned. Start from a position of strength by humanizing yourself as a leader – be vulnerable, be honest, and be accountable. Your teams and your work will benefit!
Teamraderie offers curated experience journeys to help your team achieve its fullest potential. Learn more about our Trust Journey and how your team can improve trust and appreciation in the workplace.