3 steps to build trust
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Trust issues in the workplace are more common than most leaders realize. For example, the need to constantly get approval before acting; lack of risk-taking or decision-making; and unwillingness to share, ask questions or raise concerns are all signs of a lack of trust.
Consequently, workplaces suffering from trust issues are not as productive, creative or efficient as they could be. Whether it is to move the team from a C- to an A or from a B+ to an A+, here are three steps leaders can take to build trust.
Show not tell
Leaders, especially those new to a team or organization often show up with ideas, promises and their own vision of what things will be like.
While it is critical for leaders at all levels to articulate their vision and reiterate it with clear and consistent communication, it is even more important for all leaders to show employees examples of how that vision plays out in the day-to-day operations of the organization.
For example, if a leader wants to encourage more creative ideas, he needs to understand what has stopped employees from providing them fully to this point. Instead of asking about the issues directly, one of the easiest ways to discover limiting behaviors is to pose a challenge to the group and provide a clear, confidential way for employees to contribute solutions.
Leaders can then use both the number and content of the suggestions to encourage continued behavior. The idea is to focus forward on the desired behaviors and make it easy for employees to participate.
Similarly, it is incumbent upon leaders to make it easy for employees to do the right thing. This is particularly important when trying to build or rebuild teams that have trust issues.
In other words, when employees stop trusting their leaders and/or their co-workers, they retreat into the minimal level of contributions in which they still feel safe.
To help employees through the fear of being chastised, having their ideas taken, or worse, being ignored, a leader can do two important things.
First, she can talk about similar challenges she has personally experienced and what she did to overcome them.
She can explain clearly how she felt during those times and how she has created an environment now to avoid those kinds of problems. Most importantly, she should highlight ways in which that environment is currently playing out to illustrate her point.
Second, she can openly encourage and recognize contributions with appropriate rewards. Nothing shows a behavior is valued more than a public shoutout and some type of tangible reward.
The third step a leader can take is to look in the proverbial mirror and decide how comfortable he is with failure. If he does not feel like he can make any mistakes, iterate or learn lessons, then it will be particularly challenging for him to create an environment that allows for shared learning.
However, taking the time to clearly understand the extent to which his mistakes are tolerated will help him understand his own environment and thus better understand what he is bringing to his team.
The bottom line is that leaders of strong organizations and those trying to rebuild broken structures can strengthen trust on their teams. Taking these three steps will help repair any existing damage and nourish positive behaviors.
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