Progressive leaders care about promoting trust in the workplace because they understand it will make the organization stronger. Sadly, it isn’t easy to cultivate a work environment where employers trust their employees, and, in turn, employees trust the organization.
Even if your company was built on a foundation of trust — grown from humble beginnings with an open-door policy that facilitates listening, respect, and shared purpose — things can change quickly. Trust can be very easily swept away, permanently eroding goodwill in your workplace.
Trust can be destroyed for a few reasons, such as when you fail to create an environment that promotes authentic dialogue, when you scale rapidly without putting measures in place to maintain your culture, and when you become reactive instead of proactive in your leadership.
According to Harvard Business Review, “Employees who are less trusted by their manager exert less effort, are less productive, and are more likely to leave the organization. Employees who do feel trusted are higher performers and exert extra effort, going above and beyond role expectations. Plus, when employees feel their supervisors trust them to get key tasks done, they have greater confidence in the workplace and perform at a higher level.”
According to American neuro-economist Paul J. Zak, trust is a powerful catalyst that lowers turnover, increases customer satisfaction, and even boosts profitability.
Trust has proven to have profound effects on business outcomes, but it also just feels good. For an employee, it’s a lot easier to justify going to work every day if you feel trusted and respected.
How Leaders Can Promote Trust
Building trust in your organization isn’t easy, but it is possible if you follow these best practices:
- Encourage Authentic Dialogue: Provide employees with a platform to share frequent feedback. Asking for their input more regularly keeps responses timely and actionable.
- Be Transparent: Everyone should be encouraged to share their insights, and those insights should be shared widely with employees. Workers should be aware of what is happening and why at all times.
- Real-Time Results for All: Encourage a natural communication pattern that allows for information sharing and collaborative dialogue around important issues.
- Listen, and Then Respond: More than anything else, your employees need to know that you’ve listened to what they have been saying. When given feedback, repeat back what you have heard, and then make clear what you plan to do about it. Note that action doesn’t need to be instant. It’s okay to say, “I can’t tackle that issue now, but I’ll make it a priority in Q1.” The point is that employees should know you’re taking them seriously and will do what you can to move the needle.
If you take these steps, you should see an increase in trust throughout your entire organization. In an era when every industry is being disrupted and transformed before our eyes, organizational trust creates a reliable pathway to front-line insights that can drive high performance.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Waggl blog.
Julia Winn is creative producer at Waggl, the most human way for organizations to crowdsource feedback.