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7 Steps to Building Trust in the Workplace

Trust is the belief in someone or something as being reliable, honest, truthful, and able. A key question for all workplaces to ask is: Do your employees believe in the reliability, honesty, or ability of:

  • What your company is offering,
  • Your products and services,
  • Your senior management and their peers,
  • Your business service providers?

If the answer is a resounding “No”, then there is a lot of work to be done. Have you ever asked your staff the reason why? That might be a great place to start. Some organisations establish measures directly around trust as an ongoing, long term strategy to build and monitor trust within the workplace. These measures are taken because trust is believed to increase productivity, reduce staff turnover, and build staff morale and motivation by increasing the way an employee perceives their self-worth.

If your business has yet to develop strategies around trust, it is strongly recommended you do so. These strategies should be designed to build trust within the virtual office environment, and extend to external service providers that support your workplace also. All of these have an impact on the overall foundation of trust in the company.

So how can you build trust in the workplace?

Communicate honestly

It starts with integrity, and the proper communication of values from the top all the way down through to the entire organisation. If what you say and deliver to your employees isn’t believed, then trust is not going to form. It is critical that everyone hears the same messages being communicated – the good, the bad, and the ugly. A work relationship is no different from any other. As soon as communication stops, the relationship and trust subsequently break down. Avoid secrets and lies, and be open in front of all your employees. Hiding information can cause immediate harm to both your organisation and employees.

Believe in everyone

All staff have a lot to offer towards the overall performance, vision, and values of the organisation. A company is only as good as the sum of all its parts. Organisations that don’t value their employees equally will find it difficult to develop a culture based on trust. When you value all your employees and ask for their contribution to the overall performance and values of the company, you’ll keep them engaged. Asking employees to set and measure success is one key way of building trust. Sincere and valued involvement is critical to the success of a company.

Establish shared goals

Setting group, team, or company goals, and letting everyone add to them and discuss how they can be achieved is a fantastic way to build trust. It’s not only those at the top who should be involved. Ensure that all your employees are rewarded for the growth and success of the company.

Extend trust

By extending trust towards your employees, you generate exactly what you want to receive in return – trust. Setting this example and leading from the top down is critical to establishing a trusting relationship with the organisation and all employees. Allowing all your staff to engage in dialogue, contribute to organisational matters, and then help implement them, is one way to create trust. The aim is to establish dialogues amongst employees, and not monologues from the top down.

Authenticity

Being truthful and aligning yourself with all the actions that support communications is critical, particularly with senior management. Any divergence from what is said and what is done, will result in a lack of trust. Everyone can intuitively sense when actions and communications are not authentic.

Deliver

It is critical to do what you say you’ll do, and deliver what you say will be delivered. Again, any deviation from this will undermine trust. If you find that you will not be able to achieve something you promised, you need to proactively communicate this to ensure all staff understand and support the rationale as to why. Regularly breaking your promises, no matter how small or large, cannot create a trusting workplace.

Support staff

Showing that the organisation cares about employees helps to build trust. Understanding that an employee is ill, suffering grief or bereavement, or in an unexpected emergency situation, and showing compassion will help build a relationship of understanding and trust.

Once broken, trust is very difficult to restore. The key then is to create trust and continue to support it. Creating trust as a core value or ethic within the workplace requires deliberate focus across all communications, actions, and divisions within an organisation.

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