Have you ever worked at an organization hampered by a culture of mistrust? One where employees are kept in the dark and micromanaged?
And by contrast, have you been lucky enough to work in a culture built on mutual trust? People treat each other with respect and give one another the benefit of the doubt. Coworkers keep each other in the loop. Leaders believe that relationships are important and encourage employees to foster them.
A high-trust culture has been proven by several researchers to have significant benefits. Stephen M.R. Covey, author of “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything,” and son of Stephen R. Covey says that trust is the number one competency needed by leaders today. Paul J. Zak, author of “The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performing Companies,” reports that people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 50% higher workplace productivity, 76% more engagement, and 106% more energy at work.
Even if you’re not in a leadership position, you can help cultivate a culture of trust in your workplace. Here are five ways to build trust among your staff, whether you are a manager or an employee:
1. Point out a job well done. People like to be recognized for their hard work. If you notice a colleague working especially hard on something, thank them. If your employee made a customer happy recently, recognize him or her at your next staff meeting.
2. Build autonomy. If you manage anyone, giving direction and assigning tasks is just part of your role. But the more you can trust your employees to get their jobs done, the better all around. Let them know that you trust their abilities and plan. Encourage autonomy by giving clear direction, then getting out of the way.
3. Foster relationship-building. People who like their teams feel happier at work and more committed to their organizations. Provide opportunities for your employees to form bonds beyond the office walls. That might include team lunches, after-work social activities and offsite retreats. Create a mentorship program that pairs people from different areas. Host fun gatherings around the holidays.
4. Encourage good communication. Embrace transparency and encourage leaders and managers to do the same. Keep the lines of communication open about everything from company objectives to the way new endeavors will impact employees. People will feel more involved and in the loop. That leads to happier, more loyal employees.
5. Solicit input. When employees feel that their ideas and contributions matter, they’re more engaged and happy to be at work. That means they’re more willing to go the extra mile. Plus, this type of approach inspires co-workers to collaborate, which generally leads to better work output.
Think of some of the best organizations you’ve heard of. They give their employees a voice. They empower everyone to make an impact within the organization. They put trust in their employees. Work to build a culture of trust and you’ll reap many tangible and intangible benefits.