Trust is an important part of any relationship. This is especially true in a business setting between managers and employees. As a leader, building a solid foundation of trust and respect in the people you manage will allow the team to achieve success and reach their full potential.
As you earn their trust your employees will strive to keep yours as well because trust is a 2-way street. Building their trust in you means you can trust them to work their hardest as well (The law of reciprocity in action!) It builds on employee engagement, advocacy, and most importantly, their loyalty to the company.
This can be especially important with your remote employees that you don’t see every day. Your relationship needs to have a solid foundation so that both sides can be confident that things will get done.
Simply put, if your employees trust you, they’ll work harder for you. And if they don’t trust you, don’t expect any miracles from them!
Organizations with low trust have to deal with issues like inefficient workers and increased turnover. Having distrusting employees who constantly question every decision you make can be poisonous, and the attitude can spread throughout your organization. It can result in major setbacks causing your business to not perform well and everyone suffers.
To help your business run at top efficiency, we’ve compiled a few insights on how to build trust. Let's get started.
WAYS TO BUILD AND KEEP TRUST GOING STRONG
1. Set the example!
This is especially important in the company culture that you are trying to instill in the company. The standards that you set, you should obey yourself if you ever hope that your employees will do it too. Don’t ask them to do what you yourself would not be willing to do.
Nobody likes a hypocrite or the “do as I say and not as I do” manager that sets standards/rules and then fails to keep them. A good leader provides direction, but a great leader leads from the front.
A saying that has stuck with me is “trust takes a long time to build, but can be destroyed in a single second”. Building up trust requires time and consistency. You may keep your commitments 99% of the time, but the 1% that you messed up is what people will remember.
An example of this is when Drew Houston, Dropbox’s CEO, called a meeting with his employees to talk to them about showing up to work on time. Unfortunately, he was late to his own meeting which had a very negative effect on some of the employees. Luckily, he realized his mistake and owned up to it.
Just like Drew Houston, admit when you make mistakes to employees. If you mess up, be responsible for your mistake and apologize if necessary. People may think that saying sorry is a sign of weakness, but it’s a true leader that is humble enough to admit they are human.
If trust is lost, it can still be earned back, but just know that it will take time to rebuild. Of course, it’s better to just never lose it in the first place! Keep in mind that prevention is the best cure.
2. Clear communication
Setting clear expectations and making sure everybody understands one another is a basic building block of trust. Don’t end up losing your employees faith in you due to a misunderstanding! Knowing what they expect from you and when they expect it is important if you are going to act on their expectations.
A story from this article talks about an employee asking for a 6-figure paycheck from her boss. The boss came up with a list of exactly what needed to be done for this employee to reach this kind of salary and she did it! Both sides made it clear what was wanted and benefitted from it.
However, what’s often the case with Millennials nowadays is some employees feel they know everything and are entitled to more pay, but do not perform at a level the company needs.
An experience we had at ProSky with one of our new hires is he would basically ask for a pay raise almost every other week. We needed to find a way to let him know what our expectations were before giving him higher pay. At that time, there was nothing in the HRM we were using at that time that would help us resolve this issue.
Because we saw this need in our own company as well as other companies we work with, we created Pathways to allow companies to be more transparent with employees and set expectations. By using Pathways with our own new hire, we could clearly show him the gaps in his performance, where his skills were lacking, and the level he needed to be at in order to get that pay raise he loved asking about.
Another important part of communication is replying back. Businesses strive to have 100% reply rate with their customers, why should it be different with your employees? In a business’s internal emails and messages, it’s really bad to leave employees waiting for an answer to an easy question or issue. A quick reply back can prevent potential delays and allow workers to complete tasks in a timely manner.
Having clear communication also allows your employees to trust each other which in return creates better teams within your organization. Zoë Morris, President at Frank Recruitment suggests,
"You need to have a workforce who want to be together, want to help each other, and are working to a greater good. That can be a bigger investment, as it takes time as well as money, but it's an essential use of your resources. Having an open dialogue with your employees and regular discussion away from the shop floor, so to speak, means there are fewer secrets and far fewer surprises. Any working issues can be ironed out immediately, rather than left to fester."
Whether it be following up with them, sending an email, having a call or completing a specific task by a certain day, do what you say you will do and when you said you would do it!
It may be helpful to avoid “overcommitting” so that you don’t find yourself bogged down. This goes hand in hand with being organized and managing your schedule in order to complete all your tasks. Remember, if you aren’t accountable to your employees, why should they feel the need to be accountable to you?
Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, and you will be unable to keep a commitment. Do your best to notify all parties ahead of time if changes need to happen and make sure to explain the reasons why.
For example, if you set a time to meet with an employee but suddenly change it, push it back, or cancel at the last minute, it can send a negative message to your employee. They may feel like they are not important enough for your time or that you do not respect theirs. This can all be avoided with a simple message asking to reschedule sent as early as possible.
Trying to multitask and doing too many things at once makes it impossible to be productive at all. My manager tells us to focus on getting a maximum of 3 things done at a single time, and only when they are completed should we start on new tasks. This method has helped us increase productivity and we don’t end up over-extending or promising too much.
A tool our company makes great use of to organize and complete all of our tasks is Asana. It’s a great way to encourage employee autonomy and collaboration. Asana allows us to see what everybody is working on, and allows employees the flexibility to set their own due dates while still benefitting the company as a whole.
4. Evaluations (AKA Follow-ups)
When you assign tasks to employees, you probably have due dates and follow-ups set up to check on their progress right? Well, make sure you give them the same opportunity to follow up with you! Allowing employees to check in on promises that you’ve made is a great way to build up trust and your relationship. You can even suggest times for the employee to email or call you about what you agree upon.
When you get feedback from your employees, make sure you act on it! This will have a huge impact on the employee by showing that you actually care. When you are proactively trying to address employees' needs, it automatically increases their confidence in you. Managers are human too, so feedback on their managing will help them become better leaders.
At ProSky, we as the management team thought we were laid back, honest, approachable, and transparent, but employees felt differently when we talked to them. The main issue was they felt we weren’t transparent enough which made them feel unsure of their career path when they would get pay raise, etc. Part of the problem was also they didn’t know what questions to ask or they were afraid to ask. We started adding evaluations as a part of our succession planning so that employees are a part of the feedback loop and it really improved our management team.
By doing these 4 simple methods, you will set a solid foundation of trust in your employees to build a fruitful and long-term relationship on. This will improve company culture, increase employee retention, and raise the productivity of the entire company.
Learn about other ways you can improve your company’s culture and engage your employees on a higher level. Subscribe to ProSky’s blog and get weekly emails with the latest that the industry has to offer.