Successful businesses are built on relationships, and at the foundation of all relationships is trust.
Without trust for each other and their leaders (you), your team will never truly engage, and your company will never have the kind of culture that drives success. Engaged workers bring creativity and passion to the workplace â€“ two things any business requires to grow.
Of course, you canâ€™t manufacture trust. And if you canâ€™t be trusted, most of what you say and do will be perceived as disingenuous. A recent study by the Edelman group determined one in three employees donâ€™t trust their employer, and 46 percent donâ€™t trust the organization as a whole. (Iâ€™m guessing that number is probably higher than it should be because several of those employees polled probably donâ€™t trust Edelman!)
So how can you build trust in the workplace? Or if youâ€™ve got a positive thing going but youâ€™re not quite there, how can you close that trust gap??
- HONESTY, IS SUCH A LONELY WORD
Itâ€™s not easy sharing information with your people, especially if the news isnâ€™t good. As leaders(and as humans), we have a tendency to believe that delivering bad news will impact other peopleâ€™s opinion of us.
Fact is, being honest â€“ even during the tough times â€“ is something the most trustworthy leaders learn to do. Whether your company hasnâ€™t met its goals and is unable to award bonuses, or youâ€™ve decided to let a member of the team go, most people respect leaders that are able to openly explain situations, take questions and answer them honestly.
- ADMIT WHEN YOU SCREW UP
Being transparent about bad news is difficult. Admitting when you caused a mistake can be even more difficult. However, youâ€™ll be surprised to find that employees will like and respect you more for it. Admitting mistakes actually makes you more human. Psychologists call this the Pratfall Effect. When youâ€™re able to admit to and take responsibility for your mistakes, your people will see you as a great leader.
- JUST ASK
In all the years Iâ€™ve coached leaders, I have found theÂ most overlookedÂ strategy for buildingÂ trusting relationshipsÂ isÂ also the simplest:Â Ask! Ask your employees whatâ€™s most important to them when it comes to building trust, but donâ€™t stop there. Ask how they prefer to be recognized, find out how they like to receive feedback and how they prefer to communicate. Acknowledging and acting on these preferences will undoubtedly build trust.
- LISTEN UP!
Itâ€™s one thing to ask questions; to gain trust you need to actually listen to the answers. If youâ€™re listening, you can then follow up with questions, creating a meaningful dialogue. The real key to trust comes nextâ€¦FOLLOW UP WITH ACTION! Thereâ€™s no better way to reinforce that youâ€™re listening and that you care, than to support your peopleâ€™s ideas and concerns. If youâ€™re not willing to follow through, youâ€™re better off not even having the discussion.