You may have got into business because you care about people, but bad habits and the drive for profit can sometimes lead a person away from their original ideals.
Heaven knows, most of us become entirely different people when we’re broke, stressed, or excited about a new idea. In our digitally-optimized world, it becomes all too easy to take the easy option: to send an email when face-to-face would be better, to expect employees to work overtime without asking, or to redeploy someone at short notice and with no consultation.
As it happens, these actions may sound efficient, but they’re not just rude – they’re costly. The first cost is trust. And that loss of that trust hits your profits. Consider:
- Businesses where the employees trust the management are nearly three times as likely to achieve ‘high revenue.’
- More than nine out of ten employees reckon having trust in their boss is vital to be satisfied at work.
- It can cost around £3,000 to replace an employee if they quit.
So we agree that trust is a good thing. Now, how are you to go about cultivating trust in the workplace?
Trust requires listening
Trust is a very emotional trait. It’s connected to our survival instinct. It’s not something you can quantify, in fact, it’s entirely possible to distrust somebody despite heaps of evidence that they should be trusted, just because they give you that ‘feeling’ of being dodgy.
For this reason, trust in the workplace should not be looked at as an asset that you can measure or ‘action.’ It has to come from the heart on both sides. So before you go about revolutionizing the culture of trust in your workplace, it is essential to get it straight with yourself: know your reasons, think about the people you work with, and reconsider your whole approach to empathy.
You’re going to have to do a lot of listening. Trust between employees and their boss is an individual thing, which means you need to get to know your crew. Listen always, but also look out for opportunities to ask open questions such as:
- What are you working on today?
- How is it going?
- How do you feel the results will be?
- What do you need to make it work?
Take your time responding in conversations, and learn to swallow your pride: you neither need to come up with nor take credit for, every idea. Let your colleagues finish their sentences and their thoughts. Sometimes there’s nothing like an extended silence to provoke the next development.
Open up, professionally
Trust-building begins as early as the recruitment stage. Being upfront about job requirements and expectations is essential. Even if you’re trying to sell a role to a high-quality candidate, it is crucial not to sugar-coat things. You can start to work towards gaining their trust by speaking frankly about work conditions.
Be as open about your business as it is feasible to be. Let your crew know what your goals are and how you want to achieve them. Introduce them – or have them introduce each other – to the workings of different departments. Sometimes interdepartmental mistrust can be as damaging as not trusting the boss!
Show that you trust your colleagues with the ins-and-outs of your strategy, and they will trust you in return. This comes with a commitment to work harder and smarter towards your shared goals.
Make ‘friends’ with your employees
But you can also open up about your response to what they bring. You don’t need every assessment to be a celebration or a dressing down; speak with your colleagues frankly about what they’re doing well, what they need to work on, and when they’ve surprised you with results or an idea.
There’s nothing like trusting your colleagues if you want them to trust you in return. It all begins with a commitment to human individuals rather than numbers in a ledger. Are you ready to make that leap?
About the author: John Cole writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans