Less than 50% of the professionals globally actually trust their employer. This is a rather eye-opening statistic, given that successful businesses are built on relationships, and trust forms the very foundation of these relationships!
Contrary to popular belief, cultivating a high trust culture is not an optional soft skill, but a necessity. In simple words, trust is the primitive element of high-performing organizations.
Let’s take the case of Campbell Soup Company. When Doug Conant took over the reins of the company as the CEO in 2001, he identified “inspiring trust” as his number one mission. His efforts resulted in cumulative shareholder returns in the top tier of the global food industry, and among the highest measured employee engagement levels in the Fortune 500, particularly with his leadership team.
The Importance Of Trust At The Workplace
Trust has a profound effect on business performance since it impacts two measurable outcomes – speed and cost. When trust goes down within an organization, a team and relationships, speed goes down and cost goes up. Low trust in the workplace can cause friction, whether caused by unethical behaviour or ethical, but incompetent behaviour.
On the contrary, trust produces speed. According to a book named ‘The Speed of Trust’ by Stephen M.R. Covey, trust is like the aquifer that feeds all of the subsurface wells of the organization including innovation, collaboration, empowerment, team building and brand loyalty.
Be it a marriage, friendship or any social interaction, relationships work on trust and the same holds true for business and professional relationships. The difference between a high trust environment and low trust environment is very apparent.
Take communication, for instance. In a high trust relationship, you can say something wrong and people will still construe the real meaning. While in a low trust relationship even if you are precise, you will still be misinterpreted.
That is the power of trust and you can’t have success without trust. Take any successful company and you are sure to see a high trust culture as a staple ingredient for its top performance.
How To Build Trust In The Workplace?
Trust is only built through actions and not just words. As a manager or leader in your organization, you can’t say you trust your team or employees, but you need to show it through your actions on a day-to-day basis. Here are three simple ways to build trust at work:
1. Declare Intent
The intent is the fundamental agenda or goal that asserts why we are doing, what we are doing. Declaring and laying down your agenda with mutual benefit is the first step to build credibility. This will reduce resistance and enhance commitment among your employees.
Especially when there is a new leader, a massive change or situation when disparate motives are present, making a statement of intent will yield greater clarity and resolve to work.
If you need a quick jumpstart with the high-trust high-performance cycle, it is important to set the tone of work with realistic expectations.
All of this will enable you to be transparent and communicate your intentions. Essentially, you are giving people a common ground for fostering trust on what you do because they understand why you are doing it.
2. Demonstrate Respect
The second factor that is of utmost importance in building trust is respect. As broad and simple as it seems, it’s startling how often respect is almost neglected or even abandoned altogether. It’s important to show respect repeatedly in all your actions.
Respect involves listening to your employees’ feedback, being compassionate to their needs and empowering them to do work at their best capabilities.
Make a practice of acknowledging your employee’s contributions and celebrate their achievements. A small recognition goes a long way to show that you respect and care for your people.
Give trust to get trust. If you want your people to trust you, it’s time to extend your hands first to give respect and then seek respect.
3. Deliver Results
Finally, the third element is to deliver the results that you declare in the first step consistently and confidently. Even if you are unable to deliver, brainstorm with your team to analyze what went wrong, re-frame your intent and then work towards it again.
Delivering results is doing the right thing in the right way to organically win the trust of your employees. As you do this, you are sure to automatically earn the confidence and trust of your stakeholders.
How to Rebuild Trust?
Trust is something that is easily broken within small instances. Rebuilding trust is often very difficult and cumbersome. That is why it’s important to maintain trust and keep at it. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a situation where you have lost the trust of your people, you can still put efforts to rebuild it.
The most important thing to do is to acknowledge and take ownership of the mistake or issue. You need to make it clear that you understand why employees have lost their trust in the leadership. This will show that you clearly understood the problem and are ready to take responsibility to rectify the same.
After the acknowledgement phase, you need to rectify the problem by taking the right steps. Create an open door policy where employees are able to communicate their concerns without any roadblocks and fear.
It is important to show that your management and leadership style has changed in order to regain the trust of your staff. This will bring in renewed confidence with your employees and help to make up for the loss of trust.
Finally, don’t try to rush the process and give your team ample time to adjust.
If you are sincere in your approach, eventually you are sure to earn their trust.
Build Trust At The Workplace To Drive Performance
In low performing organizations, the main factor affecting business is often low trust which can manifest itself in several forms. This can include a wide array of symptoms like dysfunction, redundancy, turnover, and disengagement.
Fortunately, trust is an asset that can be consciously promoted and developed. With trust, all things are possible!