One of the many learnings that have come out of the past couple of years of instability in the job market is that workers are in a position to demand more than just a pay check. They want a place where the company culture aligns with their own. And the foundation they need in order to feel connected with that culture is trust.
A culture of trust is not only the basis for happy and secure employees. It also allows your company to shift, adapt, and bounce back during times of unpredictability and crisis. While most people likely agree up to this point that yes, indeed, trust is very important. It can be surprising to find out the many ways that trust can be lost if you’re not diligent about maintaining it.
Some enemies of trust in the workplace include:
- Unclear or poor communication
- Misplaced or unrealistic expectations
- Broken commitments and promises
- Hiding bad news
- Keeping people in silos
- Competitiveness or pitting employees against each other
- Salary inequity
These don’t have to be large or dramatic events. Small things can break trust. One article describes the impact of BCC’ing the boss in email. Such a tiny act could easily be intended for good. But co-workers may misinterpret the sender’s intention and lose trust in them.
That’s just one example of a possibly unintentional way that trust can be lost. To prevent small enemies of trust from doing big damage, leaders should focus on actively creating a culture of trust on three levels.
Trust in Co-workers
Culture among co-workers can make or break an organisation. Do your employees see each other as obstacles to their own success or as partners? Do they work only on their tasks and nothing more, or are they aware of each other’s roles in a way that they can collaborate creatively?
Leaders have a major impact on how co-workers view each other. How and how much you’re involved in the way your employees work, the roles you give them, the amount of ownership you give them all plays a part in building a culture of trust. In general, less is more when it comes to your involvement in their work. You want to guide and provide resources. Then you want to model trust by trusting them to come through in their roles in the process. Finding that balance can be tricky. Remember you can always ask for feedback and involve your employees in creating a culture of trust.
Trust in the Leadership
It goes without saying that you need to earn the trust of the people who work under you. Lack of trust is toxic to the whole organisation and should be addressed immediately. But your best course of action is to build trust and increase resiliency.
As a leader, you do this by following through on your commitments, setting and keeping reasonable expectations, and providing the right kind and amount of support. Keep the lines of communication open with your employees. Check in regularly to make sure everyone is feeling empowered to do their jobs. This may sound time consuming. But you’ll actually be saving time and energy. As you’re earning their trust, you’re also building your trust in them. You can allow them more and more autonomy in their jobs, freeing you up to focus on more big picture things.
Trust in the Organisation
Trust at the organisational level is essential for long-term success. A company can fake positivity for a while. If there is a negative truth being hidden, eventually it will come out and any trust it had will collapse.
One of the most important factors is building trust in the organisation is to talk about the bad things. Hiding negative information only prolongs the inevitable and in fact makes a bad problem worse. The best course of action, whether the organisation faces a problem that’s big or small, is to be honest, clear, and forthright about it with your employees. Transparency is essential to trust. Not only will your employees be able to maintain their confidence in the organisation due to your honesty. They may even be able to collaborate to help solve the problem.
Building a culture of trust is essential to organisational survival in today’s unpredictable market. A team that trusts each other, their leadership, and the organisation as a whole is a resilient and impactful team.
Make leadership development part of your HR strategy and empower your leaders to guide and grow their team members. Contact us and find out how we can support you with our tailored leadership development programmes, coaching your leaders to success.