One of the most important elements of a positive, synergistic and healthy workplace environment is trust. Trust forms the foundation for effective communication and interaction, and provides a solid platform for employee engagement, retention, successful customer experiences, and satisfaction.
Trust goes beyond being able to rely upon someone. It is about character, ability, confidence, strength, faith, and conviction. When trust exists in an organization or in a relationship, almost everything else is easier and more comfortable to achieve which is why it’s so critical to build and maintain trust.
Like organizational culture, I believe trust starts at the very top – since trusting and being trust “worthy” can only exist when top management sets the example, and then promulgates that example into every business unit and department. This means establishing and maintaining integrity and communicating your vision and values through word and deed and doing what is right.
True leadership – not title, position, or responsibility – is about trust. Does trust exist in your organization? Take a look at the following tips for creating and/or preserving trusting relationships in your organization, company and community. Which of these do you need to start, continue, or amplify in your environment?
- Get to know, hire, support, and promote people who are capable of forming positive and trusting interpersonal relationships with people across and throughout the organization.
- Develop the skills and talents of all, including supervisors, middle managers, and high-potential individuals, particularly with regard to relationship building and effectiveness.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Provide as much information as you can comfortably disclose, and as soon as possible in any situation.
- Ensure that all supervisors and managers act with integrity, keeping their word and their commitments. When this is not possible, have a clear and honest explanation at the ready. Rumors and gossip are effective trust-killers.
- Confront tough issues in a timely fashion. Keep in mind employees, customers, colleagues, vendors, constituents, and your own chain of command are watching what you do.
- Display competence at all times. Know what you are talking about, and if you don’t know—admit it.
- Listen with respect and your full attention. Be empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others on your team.
- Act with competence and confidence when providing service to your customers and attending to your community and stakeholders.
- Demonstrate your own commitment to an empowered, team-oriented environment by finding opportunities for trust-building and team-building activities.
- Set high expectations all around, and let people know you believe they are capable of living up to those expectations.
Trust is not a matter of technique, but of character. It happens over time through countless individual words and deeds. Being trustworthy, e.g. authentic and truthful in your interactions and relationships with others is the cornerstone for everything you’d like your organization to be now and in the future. It is a key component of leadership, and it is trust that builds clarity and motivation in setting the stage for successful results and a job well-done.
Mallary Tytel is president and founder of Healthy Workplaces, a national consulting firm that focuses on helping create healthy, productive and sustainable workplaces. Grounded in the theory and practice of complexity science and human systems dynamics, HW provides customized coaching, training and facilitation, centering on the critical areas of strategy, diversity and culture, developing women leaders, and the triple bottom line. Contact Mallary at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1.860.874.7137.
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