Trust is sometimes talked about as being the foundation of a company’s success. But more often than not, people think about the concept of trust in terms of the customer, who must ultimately believe in the business and its products or services. But what many CEOs ignore is the fact that trust within the business is just as important, if not more.
When trust does not exist internally, it is communication, cooperation, performance and ultimately results that inexorably suffer.
5 techniques to earn trust
1. Get to know your team
It may seem obvious, but central constituent of trust in the workplace is personal connection. Interestingly, while not many CEOs address this it has been noted that as a person’s level of power goes up, their perceived ‘trustworthiness’ goes down. So it’s crucial to make an effort to build connections at every level of the business in order to earn trust. By getting to know your team you make them feel as though you are one of them. Even though you’re the boss, at the end of the day you’re all in this together.
2. Don’t play the blame game
Nothing rubs someone up the wrong way more than having their hard work and efforts credited to someone else. Especially the boss. Equally as insulting is a boss who is quick to throw others under the bus, or one who dishes out harsh criticism when the going gets tough. One of the best trust-building exercises is to take responsibility for your own errors, while giving credit where it’s due. For example, rather than pointing the finger for poor results, stress that it is the company and its processes that require improvement. It’s a simple equation, but by reinforcing the sense that everyone is working together you will effectively encourage an atmosphere of shared responsibility and trustworthiness.
3. Avoid playing favourites
The quickest way to dwindle trust levels in the office is to play favourites with employees. People see it. For example, if you only feed information to a particular employee or give a select few the most desirable assignments, everything you’ve done to build trust will be destabilised. Not only will people feel alienated, you’ll give them the sense of being an outsider, and if you’re not in their corner, how can they trust you to have their back?
4. Share intel, when you can
Wherever there is opportunity, share as much as you can about the health, happenings and future plans of the business. While most CEOs acknowledge that transparency is important, they don’t appreciate its long-term value in building trust within the company. If there’s a void of information employees will fill it, and they will usually do so with negative information. This occurs in businesses of all sizes. While there will obviously be data that cannot be distributed company-wide, by regularly sharing updates with your employees (including the less positive news), you are demonstrating you trust them. And in turn, this helps with earning their trust.
5. On a tight leash
Everyone knows that you don’t achieve long-term success by refusing to delegate. And while micromanagement is the downfall of leaders in many ways, one of the greatest detriments to your business is its capacity to destroy trust. Stop hand-holding or poking your head into every crevice of your employees’ work and instead invest every effort into empowering them with the tools they need to succeed. Your employees will trust you when you trust them.