Trust is a funny issue. It’s hard to describe, and it’s arguably not very measurable. Those who are skeptical of the HR profession might say that it’s exactly the type of thing that we’re known for dealing with. In other words, all fluff and no substance!
Jokes aside though, if there’s a lack of trust between management and employees, you’re going to run into serious problems. Issues like low productivity, high turnover of staff and a bad reputation as an employer. All of a sudden, it seems a lot more serious.
Trust issues can be caused by a wide variety of factors. It might be the case that you didn’t deliver what you said you would, or you were unable to keep a promise that you made in haste. Sometimes, these things are unavoidable mistakes that leaders will make at some point or another.
You can’t change the past. What you can do though is ensure that you get it right moving forward. Let’s take a look at the big things you need to avoid to build a climate of trust in your workforce.
You’re not listening
It would be difficult to overstate just how important communication is between management and employees. If you’re going through the motions with token initiatives and half-hearted activities like staff surveys, your workers are going to see through you right away.
You need to put listening at the top of your agenda, and you need to ensure that you’ve got systems in place to facilitate this. How will you regularly engage with individuals? This goes way beyond simply sitting in front of them and smiling and nodding. If you neglect this key element of leadership, your success will be limited. Your staff are able to give you some real gems in terms of knowledge that will make you better at your job and better at business. Make sure that you take the time to listen.
You’re not making staff part of the bigger picture
For a business to be successful, everyone’s objectives and focus needs to be in line with overall organisations goals. This quite simply can’t happen if your employees aren’t encouraged to widen their vision and recognise their value as a part of the team.
A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works here, and it needs to be driven down to an individual basis. Make sure that each member of staff has a link to the leadership team in the form of a guide and mentor who can assess their progress, help them to develop realistic goals, and provide coaching through regular meetings. What this looks like in practice will depend on the structure of your business, and it’s your job to establish how you can make this work.
You’re not following through
Of course, at the end of the day, you need to actually ensure that you’re giving your employees a very good reason to trust you. You need to be walking the walk, as well as talking the talk. All the initiatives in the world won’t make a single bit of difference if you’re not doing all you can to develop your leadership skills and act with integrity.
All leaders face challenges along the way. Winning the trust of your employees may feel like it’s a constant battle at times, but it’s one that’s very much worth fighting. Accept that you’ll come across setbacks, and hold your hands up when you get it wrong.