How to Build Trust in the Workplace
A trustworthy workplace is vital to a business' success; it helps build a positive culture, staff retention, productivity and creativity, and it allows employees to feel a strong sense of job safety. And that’s just the start of the benefits.
Let’s take a look at how we might define workplace trust.
Defining Trust in the Workplace
Trust in the workplace is about ensuring your employees are able to rely on those around them, including their leaders; and feel that they are a part of a culture of honesty, mutual respect, and accountability.
This workplace trust is about aligning your words as a leader with the actions you take. In doing so, you gain your employees’ faith and they’re far more likely to have confidence in your decisions. If actions and words aren’t aligned, employees may feel disengaged and less motivated.
Trust in the workplace can be split into two definitive types. The first is practical trust, which is earned through hard work; you show up, stick to deadlines, and autonomously work to the best of your ability. The second is emotional trust, which is gained more through creating meaningful connections with your employees and colleagues, building ties and gaining respect.
How to Build Trust in the Workplace
Building trust in the workplace can be done in many ways – there’s no one right way of doing it. It’s a flexible process. Some of the ways you can start to build trust in the workplace include:
Be honest & transparent.
Stick to your commitments.
Be held accountable.
Communicate with and within your teams.
Offer help & guidance where necessary.
Create connections with your teams & show people you care.
Stick to your values & stand up for what is right.
Be honest & transparent
Being honest is the biggest way of gaining trust with your employees. Becoming an individual who people perceive as dishonest will quickly wear away that trust. Be open with even the biggest or most awkward challenges you face. Transparency links to this; constantly communicating openly about company performance, career development, decision-making, salaries, and so on is going to help build trust in both you and the business.
Stick to your commitments
If you’ve made an agreement, whether that be to an additional day working from home, flexible working hours, or an increase in pay, stick to it. Not following through on actions you’ve promised to take is a sure way of losing trust from employees – so avoid making promises you can’t keep.
Be accountable for things that might go wrong. If you can show your workforce that you’re happy to take responsibility for actions, they’ll start to feel far more confident in you as a leader, and equally, you’ll be setting a clear example that being accountable for mistakes is the best way to overcome them. It’s not a blame game, so avoid pointing the finger.
Communicate with and within your teams
Communication is key to maintaining a level of trust. Ask questions, encourage feedback, and create an open and honest culture of communication at work and trust will be built.
Equally, get your teams to communicate with each other and build trust in one another. Think about introducing team-building trust activities in the workplace, or communication exercises to try and help facilitate this.
Listening is just as important as speaking when it comes to communication. As an active listener, you’re trying to understand the words, make employees feel they are valued, take on their feedback, and actively implement what you’ve learnt from listening.
Offer help & guidance where necessary
By sitting on the sidelines, acting separately from your workforce, you’re less likely to build a trustful reputation with your employees. But, by getting involved with teams once in a while, offering guidance, help, and feedback, you’ll automatically feel closer to your teams (and vice-versa), which is going to help employees build trust in you as a leader.
Create connections & show people you care
Naturally, people are going to trust you if they feel that you’re genuinely interested in what they’re doing, and how they are doing. So, show people you care about them and watch them start to put their trust in you. This includes showing them a level of respect. You might be their leader, but without your workforce, your business success is going to plummet – so show your employees the respect they deserve.
Stick to your values & stand up for what is right
Losing your opinions and values, as both a leader and an employee, can harbor a sense of distrust with others – it might seem like you’re just agreeing with things to get ahead. Whereas, sticking to your values shows you’re passionate about them, you know what you think is right, and you’re happy to stick up for that even if it means going against the majority, or even a senior member of the team.
Why is building trust in the workplace important?
Building a culture of trust in the workplace is vital to developing a successful business. But why? Here’s just a few reasons why workplace trust is so important:
Increase employee morale.
Less resistance to change.
Improved employee productivity & performance.
Fosters a positive workplace culture.
When you distrust members of a team or workforce, you’re far less likely to collaborate and work together effectively. Creating a culture of trust will encourage team members to share expertise, collaborate, place recognition where it needs to be placed, and much more. Trust is key to getting the most out of your teams and bettering their teamwork skills.
Increased employee morale
Without trust, employees might feel stressed at times – whether that be because they can’t communicate their concerns or can’t rely on other team members to get work done by a deadline. Removing this stress and helping them understand that they have others around them that ‘have their backs’ and they can trust is going to boost employee morale in the workplace dramatically.
Less resistance to change
Especially when it comes to trusting leadership, if it’s there then employees are far less likely to resist change, or any big decision for that matter. Why? Because they trust their leaders to do what is right for them and the business.
Improved employee performance
You’ll find that when employees trust others around them, they’re far more likely to be able to share workloads, delegate to others, and take on feedback to improve their work. In an environment where trust doesn’t exist, feedback can be overlooked, and employees may feel burnt out because they take on too much of the workload.
Fosters a positive workplace environment
It’s simple really. Trust in the workplace is key to a positive work culture.