Trust is the foundation of all relationships – personal and professional. Trust drives positive attitudes in the workplace, and as business owners we need to walk-the-talk to ensure we capture our team’s confidence and trust.
Just as children mimic their parents’ behaviour, so too do employees mimic the leadership behaviour in an organisation. Parents set the tone by which the family functions and thrives whilst leaders set the tone for the culture, values, vision and mission of a business. Employees not only put their trust in the organisation they work for but also the manager they report to, as well as the team they work within.
Individuals will tend to be more open with their thoughts and feelings if they feel they are able to trust those around them and know that they are trusted – trusted to make decisions, do their job and take on the responsibility they have been given.
Trust is built on honesty and respect
Trust opens the door to real communication, and is built on honesty and respect. We need be honest with ourselves first and foremost before we can be honest with someone else and we need to respect ourselves in order to be able to respect someone else. When we can be honest and respectful, trust is established and when there is trust, then a communication connection will be established.
Levels of seniority can also have an impact on trust within an organisation, where those who sit at higher levels potentially perceive the trust as being higher than those lower down the food chain. And those at the top are also potentially unaware of the perceptions of employees in the business.
Unfortunately when trust is broken, it can take a lifetime to rebuild it. As Warren Buffet said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Many people don’t fully understand the impact of this statement until they find themselves in a precarious situation. With this in mind, here are some elements to focus on in your business to help build trust:
Communicate openly. This means sharing as much information as possible, encouraging a shared sense of ownership through company goals, vision and mission and people’s input being welcomed and valued.
Establish strong company values – values are the moral compass that keep both an organisation and its employees focused, engaged and on track.
Create a strong sense of community – connect employees to one another in ways that empower them and increase their sense of belonging, connection and security.
Recognise and reward. Reward individual and team achievements in alignment to shared values and goals providing them with a sense of fairness, purpose, recognition, belonging, and choice.
Encourage personal growth and development. Individuals that have a high sense of self-awareness and emotional intelligence are able to use their emotional information to guide their thinking and behaviour as well as manage and/or adapt to environments and situations. Flexibility and adaptability are key to survival in today’s every-changing environment.
Trust is a necessary condition for employee engagement but the two are very different. Engagement involves giving of one’s energy to an organisation whether that be cognitive, emotional or physical, but it is almost like an exchange relationship. Trust is about accepting a certain amount of uncertainty but being willing to take risks and go into the unknown because you trust the other party that they will act in a positive way towards you.
It is about a willingness to make oneself vulnerable in the face of uncertainty or insecurity. Trust is more a personal and fundamental relationship and has key moral dimensions to it
Trust stems from the behaviour of direct managers as well as the organisation’s leaders. Businesses that have high trust are those where staff feel their trust is reciprocated and that they are themselves trusted by their managers. It’s what we should all be aiming for.