Employers | 25 Sep 2019

8 Ways to build trust with your employees

Sean BreenDirector & Chief Biscuit Dunker

Research by Interaction Associates uncovered that companies with high levels of trust are two and a half times more likely to have higher revenue compared to companies with low trust, while a study by ultimate software found that 93.5% of employees feel that trust in their boss is absolutely essential for them to stay satisfied at work.

Everything in your company crumbles without trust.

Employer-employee relationships built on trust will cultivate a workforce of inspired, engaged, productive and innovative teams, which ultimately leads to a competitive advantage.

As a leader, it’s your job to build and maintain trust in your workplace. So how do you cultivate a culture within your company that is built upon trust?

1. Open Communication: Tell employees your future plans from day one

There is a fantastic opportunity to build trust with all new employees. Communicating future goals and ambitions for the company and clearly outlining the roles employees have in these plans will play a significant part in achieving these objectives.

Communicating the big picture and sharing your hopes and aspirations will create an open working environment from the start.

Uncertainty about the future of the company can cause unnecessary stress for your staff. Being clear and concise about the company’s plans will remove any doubt and inspire your employees to help achieve the mission.

2. Schedule regular meetings

Setting aside 5 to 10 minutes a week with employees will create a trusting environment where ideas and feedback can be freely discussed.

An easy way to get the ball rolling is to ask your employees:

• What is going well?

• What could be going better?

• What ideas do they have to improve upon their work?

3. Acknowledge your mistakes

Show your employees that you’re human too. When people show their imperfections with absolute honesty, they automatically become more trustworthy.

Employees will be able to relate and connect to you on a higher level because every one of us knows what it’s like to mess up.

If you make a mistake and fail to acknowledge it but yet your employees know you made a mistake, it will weaken your character; display your inability for personal growth along with highlighting a complete lack of self-awareness. This is detrimental for building trust with your employees.

The golden rule: Always admit when you made a mistake and never be afraid to apologise to your employees.

4. Show your appreciation immediately

Immediate appreciation for a job well done is an excellent way to build trust and it’s backed up by science.

According to Paul J. Zak, professor at Claremont Graduate University, states; “The neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it's tangible, unexpected, personal, and public."

5. Set up team building activities

Team bonding activities don’t have to be extravagant and time consuming.

It can be as simple as going to lunch on Fridays, doing an end of week review, or setting up a dinner for your employee’s birthday or anniversary.

Perhaps there is a lunch time gym or yoga class that you and your staff could attend.

Another option would be to find a cause that your employees are passionate about and explore volunteering opportunities. Happiness levels are known to increase when people are part of a cause that’s bigger than themselves. A sense of community and meaning will do you and your staff the world of good.

6. Be a leader

There are some simple standards to live by if you want to display your leadership qualities to instil trust in your employees:

Take the fall and give credit

Here is a great rule to follow: If your team fails on a project, it’s your fault. If the project is a success, it’s the team’s achievement.

Never speak ill of your employees.

Badmouthing will eventually get back to the employee and will break trust and diminish respect. Never say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Never ask your employee to do a task that you’re not willing to do. You are the example – go set it.

Don’t say anything that makes you weak.

If you commit to a project or task, always follow through with it. The level of trust you have with your employees depends on your integrity. Saying one thing and doing another will build suspicion and diminish trust.

To avoid damaging your reputation as someone who walks the walk, only commit to things you feel you can do.

7. Reduce stress

Paul Zak, the leading expert in the area of trust, discovered that stress inhibits the production of oxytocin which is a chemical that drives people to trust.

Stress can cause employees to be less social and more paranoid about the intention of others. A stressful environment will cultivate a culture with a lack of trust.

Ways you can reduce stress in the workplace:

• Encourage employees to use up their annual leave to avoid burnout

• Improve work life balance – explore options of flexible working hours or allow your employees to work from home

• Help staff to manage their time

The America institute of Stress found that 46% of employees said their workload was the main source of stress at work. There is a big difference between staff who are overworked and staff who don’t know how to manage their time effectively.

Having open communication with your employees about their workload and time management will provide you with feedback. If anyone is struggling offer advice and solutions on how they can prioritise their work better to remove stress.

8. Empower your employees

Delegating projects or important tasks to your employees will show them that you trust them. This will provide motivation for them to prove their worth.

If the project work is successfully completed then rinse and repeat. Increase the level of responsibility for your employee. By challenging your employees with the right amount of work load that they can bear, they will feel valued and motivated to perform for you.

Building trust with your employees will take consistent daily effort and in time, it will pay off exponentially in the long term. But remember, look after yourself too!

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