The foundation of any relationship is trust. And that goes for workplace culture too. Today’s economy is fast-paced, leading many corporate leaders to seek new ways to be agile and innovate.
However in doing so, many frequently overlook a major component of success–employee trust. This not only creates a poor workplace culture but is a costly mistake in terms of money, time, and reputation.
Why Trust Matters in Workplace Culture
Why is distrust so costly? When you don’t have trust, your company can’t respond as quickly as you need to in order to be successful in today’s fast-paced world.
Furthermore, if employees don’t trust their leaders, they won’t operate efficiently. Staff will be reluctant to make decisions, seeking approval for every little thing. They won’t be willing to go the extra mile if they feel others won’t back them up. They’ll even fear sharing bad news, leading to issues going completely unaddressed, and they will be less likely to offer new ideas to overcome company challenges.
So with trust being a crucial part of workplace culture and the success of your business, what kills trust? And what builds trust into your workplace culture?
Trust frequently suffers when leaders get caught up in playing the short-term game. Here are some things that many in leadership do that create an environment of distrust and poor workplace culture.
- Avoiding Conflict: When you discourage disagreement, discussions can’t be open and honest. Either decisions won’t get made, or they are made based on incomplete information. To combat this trust killer, create a safe place for people to bring up the downsides of a plan. It may stir up conflict, but it’s far healthier.
- Breaking Promises: Leadership not following through on promises leads to a loss in trust as well. Why would employees believe you the next time you make a promise?
- Focusing on Compliance: Implementing layers of rigid rules and focusing on getting permission for every little thing can slow down your workforce when you need them to be adaptable to a fast-paced world. Instead, share the end goal with employees and trust them to use their common sense.
- Bad Communication: While sharing bad news with employees can be difficult, it’s always better to tell the truth. Along those same lines of honesty, you also want to keep your employees in-the-loop and just practice good communication in general.
- Assuming Trust: Trust is a two-way street. You can’t just assume that it will happen on its own. You have to explicitly think about trust, work on building it, and check in with employees to be sure that trust is still there.
Besides some of the pointers that we looked at to counter some “trust killers,” let’s take a look at some other things you can do to build a positive workplace culture full of trust between employees and leadership.
- Clarity: Give employees a clear vision of where you want to go and what role they will play. Don’t be ambiguous.
- Compassion: Leaders who care for more than just themselves inspire trust.
- Character: Leadership should choose to do what is right over what is easy.
- Commitment: Stick with your employees even in the face of adversity and they will do the same for you.
- Connection: Cultivate strong relationships among leaders and employees. Finding common ground can also help cultivate connection.
- Contribution: Leadership also needs to show they are contributing and that it’s not just on the backs of those under them.
- Consistency: What we do all the time, our habits, shape what others expect of us. So build a brand of inclusion and a reputation of reliability so your employees trust you.