The value of workplace trust cannot be overestimated. It’s the foundation for collaboration, integrity, and innovation. As such, it’s the foundation for all employee engagement.
The great news is that more and more organizations are making trust a core pillar in their value-set. Here are five ways you can achieve more trust in the workplace:
Embrace new forms of leadership. The less trust management has in workers–as demonstrated through strict rules, monitoring, and structures–the less workers trust them in return. Thankfully, the concept of a leader in the workplace has shifted in the last decade. There’s been a movement toward the belief that a leader is someone who inspires rather than dictates, orchestrates rather than commands, and listens rather than orders. Moving in this direction is one step to building trust in your workplace.
Cultivate mutual respect. Mutual respect means that you don’t question people’s motivations or qualifications, only their work and ideas. It means you listen with a bias toward believing what others say, or at least a belief that whatever they say comes from a place of honesty. Respect is a habit to be learned. Training and education helps as well – especially in positions that are traditionally not highly skilled. When I know you know what you’re doing, it’s easier to trust you.
Build transparent environments. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. And we all have blind spots. Transparent environments, at the very least, create an opportunity and invitation for people to be aware of potential problems and contribute to their resolutions. Integrity is sustained and supported by a strong commitment to transparency.
Encourage pervasive communication. In the 21st century we have new communication tools that make leadership communication and team communication, easier and more participatory. We have the means for each team member to communicate equally. Now we need to do everything we can to encourage it.
Have courage. This is really where the rubber meets the road. You need to have the courage to share your flaws, and accept the flaws of others without judgment. This is not a one-time event, but a habit and a discipline. In other words, it’s a behavior we can cultivate. Humility and courage are in many ways two sides of the same coin. There are times when we lose our courage or humility. However, every discussion is a new opportunity to regain it.