Engaging Employees Series – Five Actions to Build Trust
By: Marcy Fortnow – Founder of Engaging Play
Date: Originally Published – June 2020
Trust is on the decline in every part of our society. Even before the Novel Corona Virus came along, trust in government, trust in organizational leadership, and trust in the media, were dropping. In a research study done in 2018 by the Grossman Group, trust in our society had fallen by 43%. With recent developments such as Covid-19, illuminated racial justice inequities, false information from government agencies and political leaders, and economic disruption, I imagine trust has fallen even further.
As a leader in your organization, it is imperative that your employees trust you. Trust is a fundamental element, especially in times of change. Lack of trust in a manager results in employee dissatisfaction, low motivation and morale, and reduced productivity. If you would like to view the video on this, click here.
I have a colleague who, as the business owner, had to lay off a member of her team. The firing understandably upset the entire staff. In another instance, a client who was implementing a reorganization in her firm, was rightly concerned that everyone involved was feeling unsettled and unsure of their future. In both cases, failure to build and maintain trust in their leadership affects their employee’s loyalty, morale, and the quality and productivity of work. Low trust will also impact staff member’s engagement, team collaboration, and inhibit future innovation.
Here are 5 things leaders can do to build trust with their employees:
- Be ready to intentionally work on building trust because it takes effort. Trust is not something that happens quickly or in one shot. Trust is built over repeated consistent behavior. A commitment to building trust is one of the best commitments a leader can make. Trust is the foundation of all positive interpersonal traits.
- Be honest, open, and transparent. Always tell the truth even when the truth isn’t pretty. Be conscious to communicate what is real and true, whether people want to hear it or not. Communication needs to be timely, relevant, and focused on what the employee needs to know and why. Honesty and transparency can sometimes be challenging, but in the end, it will build trust.
- Listen. A good listener is more trustworthy because they have taken the time to understand another’s perspective. Be supportive and giving and recognize that leadership is about others, it’s not about you.
- Be consistent with your actions and your communication. Set a consistent schedule for team and 1 on 1 meetings and keep them. There is nothing more troubling to an employee than when their manager cancels a meeting with them. Lots of leaders fell off the consistency wagon when the virus hit, but that is exactly when they needed to be communicating and exhibiting consistency even more. Consistent behavior builds trust.
- Reinforce the culture of your organization. Especially now, make every effort to demonstrate the traits you want to see in your people. If you expect your team to hit their deadlines, then you need to hit yours. If collaboration is a wanted part of your culture, then build opportunities for people to collaborate and positively reinforce cooperative efforts. This is not the time to let your culture go unchecked, so take an active role in making positive culture happen. Help to build relationships and community among your team members. Reinforce respect and accountability within the group.
Building trust as a leader takes focus and effort, but the rewards are great. Trust forms the basis of all relationships and so improving trust can positively impact morale, productivity, decision making, and teamwork. Trust in leadership will allow an employee’s value to shine through to the organization. Each environment is unique, so if you would like to learn more about building trust and encouraging trust in your team, contact me, Marcy Fortnow at engagingplay.com for a consultation.