Trust is the foundation for building strong teams, creating a positive work culture and producing massive results. The cost of not having trust in the workplace is also greater than you may be aware of. Fast Company Magazine shared a story about a Fortune 500 company who realized it took an average of 89 weeks to execute change within their company, and 39 of those weeks, were a direct result of mistrust.
Have you ever worked in an environment where trust didn’t exist? You most likely experienced a workplace where people are unreliable, inadequate, disloyal, un-communicative and are inconsistent in their work and their moods. It’s what I call a low trust workplace; which can create a highly stressful and undesirable environment for everyone. However, when trust is present, people start to take ownership of their responsibilities, help one another out, speak highly of one another, communicate more often and tend to be more productive. Trust provides a safe place for people to share their struggles, their dreams and reach their potential individually and as a team. So how can you, as the leader, build a high trust workplace? In this article I’ll share with you the 5 elements of trust, so that you can raise the morale of your team and start building a sense of trust in the workplace.
First, let me share with you a couple of statistics you should know about how trust works within organizations. According to the new Edelman “Trust Barometer”, (a survey of 33,000 people in 28 countries), 1 in 3 people don’t trust their employer. They also discovered that trust decreases from top positions down to the lowest. For instance, 64% of executives trust their organizations, while only 51% of managers and 48% of other staff stated they trust their organizations less. Employees remarked that they trust their peers more than the CEO and upper level executives of their company. That means, the higher up you go, the more critical it is for you to build trust with those beneath you; so the first step to building trust, starts within you….the leader.
Here are 5 Questions That Determine if You’re a Trustworthy Leader:
1. Do people constantly question your expectations of them?
2. Would most people describe you as someone who is reliable?
3. Is there a high amount of gossip and disrespect amongst your team?
4. Do the majority of team members under perform at the tasks you ask them to do?
5. Do you trust people to take on new responsibilities?
If the answer to most of these questions is a big fat no, there is work to be done, and you can start by learning the 5 ways to increase your trust as a leader and start building trust at work.
5 Steps of Building TRUST in the Workplace:
T = Be TRANSPARENT with your team. Transparency is showing accountability through your communication. Being honest, vulnerable, giving feedback and stating expectations are all forms of transparency. Without transparency people tend to make up their own truth about something. For instance, if you didn’t give feedback after they’ve made a mistake, they believe it’s ok to repeat that same mistake again. If you neglect to say, “good job”, they think that you didn’t like the results they provided. Be transparent by giving constructive criticism and positive feedback often, so people understand where you’re coming from and what your expectations are. You can also be transparent by admitting mistakes and being vulnerable with others. This shows that you’re not perfect either and it’s a great way to show people that they can trust you. By being the example for your team, they will learn to be more transparent with you and one another.
R= RESPECT everyone. Respect your employee’s time, their opinions and their ideas. If you say your meeting is at 9am, don’t show up at 9:15. If you say you have an open door policy, don’t shut the door just because you don’t agree with someone’s perception. Remember, great leaders are great listeners. Showing respect doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone, however, when you honor their feelings, it builds trust and they feel safe to open up more often. Respect is simply the Golden Rule in action: “Do Unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
U= UNITE your team. The first step here is to let people know that you will not tolerate cliques and gossip amongst your team. Gossip is like cancer. It kills team morale. Trust, however, is the cure.The second step is to have them work toward one vision. Give them a group project they have to complete by working together. If they fail, they all reap the consequences, and if they succeed, they all receive the reward. The team that struggles together and succeeds together, is a team that unites together.
S= SHOW them you care. There’s a quote by Leadership Expert, John C. Maxwell that says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Trust is built when someone sees that you truly value them as a person and not just as an employee. In my audiobook, ‘The TRIUMPH Method’, I walk you through the top 5 things employees need in order to have job satisfaction. Being valued is #1 on that list. You can show people you value them by learning more about them personally, praise them daily and ask for their input more often. When people feel valued you do more than earn their trust, you earn their loyalty as well.
T= Use TRUST Building Activities. High morale comes from a high trust workplace. When someone enjoys the people they work with, it’s been proven that they’re happier and are more productive, and that doesn’t happen by accident. One of the ways to raise the morale and build trust at the same time, is to provide activities that are focused on building trust in teams. When I conducted a training for Princess Cruises, I included a few trust exercises. One was called, “The Index Card Game”. I had everyone write down something positive they thought their fellow employees brought to the team. When we finished, each team member walked away with an index card full of compliments they never knew their co-workers thought about them. The team said that one activity brought them closer then they’ve ever been.
When comparing a high trust vs low trust work environment, the 5 elements of trust will either be present or missing from the leader. My challenge to you, is to make an effort every day on building one of the 5 Elements of TRUST. Today, work on being transparent. Tomorrow, work on showing others respect…and so on. Keep going until you’ve built a high trust work environment and more respect in the workplace.
LEARN IT. LIVE IT. LEND IT.
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1. Comment below on where you feel you lack trust at work and which of the 5 Steps for Building Trust in the Workplace you plan on using first. If you want to dive deeper into building trust, respect and influence as a leader, go get a copy of my audio book, The TRIUMPH Method, where I walk you through 7 Simple Steps For Developing Committed and Highly Motivated Teams.
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