As managers and leaders, we depend on our team members as much as they depend on us. The productivity, innovation, and personality of managers create a culture of trust in a business team and also drives success.
If employees feel like they are part of a workplace which cultivates them as thinkers and people, their job satisfaction will increase significantly.
And your job as a leader becomes a whole lot easier.
However, to gain access to your employees’ great ideas and adequately address challenges when they arise, you must first establish a culture of trust in which every employee feels comfortable to speak up and be themselves.
Here are 6 key ways to establish that culture of trust.
1) Prove You’re Ready to Listen
Communicating openness is vital to building trust between managers and employees. This doesn’t mean that you should tell your team members your thoughts at every opportunity. Instead, focus on affording your employees the opportunity to be heard.
In other words, listen to your people!
Make sure every new team member knows you’re the type of leader who encourages honest feedback (whether it is good or bad).
If workers don’t feel comfortable approaching their superiors to disclose or discuss individual or team-related challenges, they’ll be more likely to bottle their opinions and feelings – which rarely has a positive outcome.
If your business model allows, make flexibility around hours a central point of these open discussions. Talk with your employees one-on-one about a working schedule that is right for their responsibilities and productivity habits.
This benefits the company because the employee will be free to do their best work without distractions and will also prove that you genuinely listen when people speak up.
2) Show You Value Them as Thinkers
Perhaps the most significant management faux pas is a lack of humility.
Power can slowly, easily go to people’s heads, and management is rife with folks who have forgotten to acknowledge their staff for being unique, hardworking, imaginative individuals.
You can avoid this by recognizing and appreciating your team’s ideas daily.
If your business doesn’t take risks or encourage new thinking, the business will suffer. You can make your company an innovation hub by actively encouraging employees to share their great ideas in supportive team settings that don’t silence anyone.
Set these team meetings in casual spaces to reduce formality.
If you have a cozy lunchroom, do it there. Better yet, treat everyone to a break out of the office, and book out a corner in a local coffee shop or restaurant.
Remember that some team members will be less willing to shout their ideas over the din. For these quieter types, extend the opportunity of a one-to-one debrief when new ideas arise.
3) Follow Through
It’s all well and good to facilitate group meetings and to prove yourself a sympathetic ear on the office floor, but if your subsequent actions don’t actually resolve the problems in these situations, your promises will be empty.
One leading reason employees leave their workplaces has to do with the lip-service they receive from their superiors.
In other words, managers who make promises and say all the right things but fail to follow through. That kills a culture of trust.
4) Give Rewards Where They Are Due
Since “all talk and no action” is a negative for managers, spoken or tangible workplace rewards are great incentives for people to work harder and better.
However, in the process of giving out rewards, avoid favoritism.
Although rewards should highlight the efforts of people who perform exceptionally, managers should also choose who to reward based on their professional merit, not according to how much you connect with them on a personal level.
Managers can find it challenging to set aside their personal opinions about an employee when they are assessing their professional performance on a particular project or task.
Nevertheless, remember that people easily notice when managers show bias. Make sure the playing field is level, and ensure that when you extend rewards, you have professional reasons for doing so.
5) Professional Transparency
The fastest route to becoming known as an untrustworthy leader is secrecy.
Teams hate being notified about new policies or other significant changes on short notice and may choose to leave the business if they feel their managers do not care enough even to communicate with them.
Be upfront about any upcoming issues – positive and negative.
If your team suffers a PR catastrophe, debrief, answer questions, and plan to do better. If a product launch fails to bring in the revenue you hoped for, discuss the performance with your team. If there’s a promotion or prize on the table, be clear with the criteria so your team can compete fairly.
The only way to maintain long-term trust is to be upfront from the start – because if employees have to find things out themselves, they’re much more likely to abandon ship.
6) Personal Transparency
In business matters, personal authenticity is equally important as candor. For example, many leaders tend to distance themselves from their staff.
Although distance may seem a sensible way to prevent bias and compromising situations, being aloof and impersonal only de-personalizes the relationship between manager and team.
It’s possible to open yourself up to your employees while maintaining your professionalism, and workers will trust both you and the business more if you let them in a little.
Don’t air your deepest, darkest secrets – but telling your team members about your own career trajectory and personal interests make you more approachable. Plus, seeing you lead by example, your employees will be motivated to peel off the layers and in turn become closer as a team.