Curious about How to Build Trust as a Leader? 7 Steps

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A positive work environment  is an understated necessity for success. When staff feel valued and learn to trust their leaders and coworkers you are on the way to a high performing environment. It is a worthy goal to build trust as a leader and one that should be pursued if you want to be seen as a leader people want to follow.

Within such environments, employees display their talents, energy, passion, and creativity. As a result, they improve their innovative strengths, productivity, and creativity. A culture of trust promotes employee satisfaction and may improve talent retention. A 2016 study from PwC said 55% of CEO believed that lack of trust threatens the organization’s growth.

But how do you build trust as a leader and make it part of your culture? Trust is not tangible and is only measured indirectly. It is a delicate element to maintain.

Here are the seven steps to help you boost relationships and build trust in your workplace.

1.Make Employees Feel Like They Belong

Employees who feel valued and respected are loyal and will do what it takes to get the job done right. Think of employees like the wheels of your car; you know what happens when wheels pull off a moving car.

To build trust as a leader begin with seeing employees as valuable members of the team. Make a point to openly demonstrate appreciation for your staff and let them know the company would not exist without them.

Employees may feel more trusted when they speak about important issues. Giving them room to air their concerns and interests may boost their morale.  Let’s get to the next step.

2. Be Open to Conflicting Views and Approaches

Employees feel valued when they have a voice, even when they might disagree.  Keep staff informed, but also allow opportunity for staff to share their ideas and concerns about the proposed changes. Keep everyone informed so the grapevine does not fill up with conspiracies and misinformation.

In any workplace environment, there’ll always be people with different views and conflict can test a leader’s ability to manage and lead. When people cannot talk through their ideas you can end up with opposing groups and ultimately weakened teams. These unresolved power struggles may lead to a hostile work environment.

It is impossible to avoid conflict, and building trust as a leader will help you mitigate the negative consequences of unresolved conflict. Ignoring people and problems will destroy trust and damage relationships making work more difficult. 

Here are a few suggestions to show that you’re open to different perspectives and opinions:

Overall, you should keep a positive attitude about viewing everyone’s perspectives.

3. Encourage Transparent Communication

Building trust as a leader begins with transparent communication.  Encouraging open and transparent dialogue is the key to stronger trust and employee engagement. With transparency, employees feel valued, cheerful and trust management decisions. 

Top-performing companies identify transparency as a value and integral part of their workplace culture. Successful leaders have learned to balance their resistance to being vulnerable with the understanding people need the facts.  

Transparency means honesty, timely feedback and well-defined expectations. Make it a practice to engage employees in decision-making and provide updates on final decisions.

4. Keep Your Employees Updated On Important Issues

Trust is a by-product of relationship and having the right information is critical. Improve communication across all levels and you will build trust as a leader. Evaluate your current communication strategies. (Don’t have a communication strategy? Schedule a complimentary consultation and let’s talk about developing one!)  Do you have regular channels set up to deliver messages, is your tone and content clearly sending the right message? 

Effective communication is when people know exactly what you want, as their manager, and what you expect. This gets everyone on the same page about goals and what is next. This is how you engage your team in driving the company forward.

Tips to improve workplace communication include:

  • Hold daily huddles, 5-15 minutes, to share individual goals and any potential bottlenecks. This offers opportunity for others to support another team member and or the manager to intervene to ensure progress.  
  • Be very clear when communicating. Keep your message short and concise. Do not bundle different topics or when something is urgent, tack on another messages, because you have an audience.
  • State your intended goal with each message. For example, “I want to give you an update about our progress…” or, “I have some difficult news… “
  • Encourage face to face communication. Email is ineffective and text messaging can complicate the clarity of your message. Old fashioned face to face meetings will build trust faster than a deluge of digital messages.
  • Hold periodic “Coffee Chats,” or other gatherings with the sole intention of socializing. People that play together work better together.

5. Engage Employees in the Change Process

We have alluded to this in earlier steps. Change has accelerated in the workplace; it is part of everyday work. Effective leaders bring staff into the design and planning phase of change initiatives, for ideas and input, and to gain the collective buy-in that is so critical to your success.

To engage your employees in the change process, be sure to have a clear and compelling vision. Understanding the why behind what people are doing is elevating the conversation between you, the manager, and your employees. The more people feel like they are making a contribution and their personal contribution matters, the more invested they are in the final outcome.

Develop your vision for the change event and engage your team in crafting that vision.

6. Be Approachable

This may seem self-explanatory except too often leaders are not aware of how they are coming across to those they manage. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. And when stress and pressure take over, your need to “get it done” supersedes your concern about how you come off. This is when you abruptly answer people or ignore questions because your primitive brain has taken over.

On the other hand, some leaders overextend themselves and want to be available, at any cost, and lose boundaries. Their “open door” policy because a problem because they cannot get their work done.  

Being approachable begins with putting people at ease when they approach you; it is as simple as smiling and making eye contact. It extends to opportunity for others to speak, while you, lean in and actively listen. You may also use humor to help others relax.

The best managers build trust by appreciating staff and encouraging them to share their ideas.  More than half of engaged employees said they could ask their managers any question.  

7. Helps Others Get Ahead 

A Harris poll survey showed that 70% of US employees want to work where they can grow their skills. Having employee development programs builds trust with your employees because they feel cared about.

As part of your regularly coaching of your team, include their career map and help them have opportunities where they can more ahead. This investment in them will create a deep connection with you, and their investment in doing the best job possible. Encourage your staff to declare their career ambitions and support their efforts.  

Building Trust in Your Workplace Requires a Strategy

You can now create a solid foundation for trust with these 7 steps.  Building a workplace culture that embraces trust does take time and a strategy, but it is well worth the effort.  Building trust as a leader takes commitment, patience, and resilience.  

If you want to increase your leadership skills in the workplace, schedule a complimentary strategy call today.

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Dr. Cynthia Howard

Executive Coach  Performance Consultant  LSSBB

It takes resilience and agility to stay focused in these disruptive times. We want to help you get ahead of the challenges in this digital age with short practical tips. Go forward. Be your best

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