Building trust in the workplace
Why is building trust in the workplace important? If your workplace lacks trust, it isn’t just a personnel problem for HR to take care of. Trust is a business issue – it can actually affect your bottom line.
Employee retention, achievement levels and even creativity all depend on building trust in teams. After all, employees won’t stick around in an environment where they don’t feel secure and they won’t do their best work for leaders they don’t trust. Most importantly, successful brainstorming and innovation depend on employees trusting each other with their ideas. The crazy, outrageous ideas are often the best.
Ultimately, your goal is profits. You need a culture of innovation and productivity to get there. And for that, you need to learn how to build trust in the workplace.
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1. Set the right expectations
Begin with the basics. Don’t tolerate lying, stealing or unprofessional behavior – ever. Set the bar high when it comes to quality of work and interactions with clients as well. These are areas where it’s important to have clear expectations and hold employees accountable.
At the same time, as Tony Robbins says, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” You know your end goal – scaling and growth, followed by your exit strategy. That means you must build an excellent company culture that keeps innovation flowing when you’re not there. You won’t get that by chastising employees for being three minutes late or taking time off when they need it. You’ll lose your best employees by focusing on strict rules that may seem important to you, but that ultimately break trust rather than build it.
2. Lead by example
Building trust in the workplace starts with you. “Leaders are what transform organizations,” says Tony. “What will make you the leader is when you have a higher expectation not of other people – anybody can do that – but of yourself.” You must hold yourself to the same standards as your employees – in fact, even higher. If you skip meetings, reschedule constantly and don’t keep your word, your employees won’t either.
Great leaders bring passion and purpose to their work every day. They inspire employees to do great work and believe in the company, because they live and breathe those things themselves. Finally, great leaders inspire others to become leaders themselves – and you’ll need those people as your company grows.
3. Be honest
Honesty is another area where you must lead by example – you cannot expect your employees to be honest if you are not. While you certainly don’t need to tell your employees everything, letting them know about decisions that affect them helps to build trust. Share the current health of the company, like performance metrics and even quarterly or bi-annual financial results.
Admit when you’ve made a mistake, and always keep your word. Don’t make promises you can’t keep or don’t intend to keep. When you say one thing but act differently, it’s a form of dishonesty that breaks trust.
4. Build real relationships
Don’t talk to your employees in corporate jargon, and definitely don’t skip talking to them at all. Even the C-suite needs to interact with employees on the front lines – and frequently. Get to know the people on your team and tell them a little about yourself, too. Building trust in teams can be as simple as hosting social events like a pizza lunch or Friday happy hour where you fully participate along with the team. Higher executives should occasionally attend department meetings or listen in on client calls to see what’s going on. Don’t become detached in your executive office.
5. Focus on the individual
If you want to truly motivate your team to do great work, you also need to discover what motivates them as individuals. For some people, friendly relationships and team-building lead to trust; others may just need cold hard data and results. Some people may need weekly 1:1s where they can talk to you openly; others might need to see precisely executed work. Building trust in the workplace means taking the time to find out what each person needs in order to trust you and each other – and then making it happen.
6. Celebrate achievements
No one wants to work in an environment where they fear making a mistake. This type of workplace will also kill any innovative spirit. As Tony says, “You have to fail to be successful.” Every mistake is an opportunity for improvement and should be treated that way. At the same time, every achievement should be celebrated.
If your team just finished a big project or the company signed a big contract, it’s time for a toast or an announcement during a company-wide meeting. Did an individual do something above and beyond? Send out an email of appreciation or give them a shout out during your morning scrum. You’ll soon find your employees are motivated to achieve even more.
7. Ask for opinions – and take them seriously
Want to know how to build trust and confidence in the workplace? Just ask your employees. Seems too simple, right? But an open-door policy can go a long way. When employees feel like they can talk to you – and that you’ll truly listen – trust is built. Along the same lines, talk about trust, fears and the company culture in general on a regular basis. Make it a part of your normal conversation, and you’ll build a safe environment where employees can truly be heard.
Ready to raise your standards and get to work building trust in the workplace? With the right combination of leadership, honesty and relationship-building, you’ll soon have a team that trusts you and each other – and that leads to growth for everyone.
Ready to build a corporate culture of trust?
Discover how to build trust in the workplace with Tony’s 7 Forces of Business Mastery guide.