Research shows that high levels of trust between a leader and his or her team can provide a significant boost to employee engagement, productivity and company performance. When there’s trust, great things can be accomplished. But how do you show your employees that they can trust you?
Researchers say the most trustworthy leaders employ simple yet effective trust-building strategies within their organizations, such as connecting with employees on a personal level. Do you show genuine interest in employees’ personal lives as well as their professional ones? Do you talk with each member of your team on a one-on-one basis periodically? Make an effort to get to know them and help them succeed professionally? In a poll conducted for Harvard Business Review, not having time to meet with employees, not knowing employees’ names and not asking about employees’ lives outside work or helping with career goals were among the top complaints employees have about their company’s leaders. Surprised?
David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University who has studied the concept of organizational trust, has found that the more power a person has in an organization, the less trustworthy and caring they often appear. That’s why personal connections are so important. Finding common interests and showing genuine interest in other people is a great way to help create a connection and build from there.
Do your employees know that you will follow through with what you say and what you commit to? That’s another important element of building trust. Make sure that you are delivering as much as you expect your team to. Ever admitted that you were wrong? Surveys show that many employees have never heard their boss admit when he or she was wrong.
Try delegating important tasks to employees and provide them with as much autonomy as possible to handle them. Teamwork is not telling your team what to do and how to do it. That diminishes rather than builds trust. It’s about letting them be strategic, creative and innovative on their own. Your employees are going to make mistakes and that’s OK — so do you.
Ultimately, showing your employees that you trust them can have a reciprocal effect by encouraging them to trust you as well. Trust can be very challenging, but transferring ownership and responsibility to others can engender a sense of trust in your own abilities. After all, if a company wants employees to trust its leadership, leaders must lead with trust!
“Without trust, we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate or, at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.” — Stephen M.R. Covey (Leading with Honor)