10 Ways to Build Trust with Employees

by | May 10, 2013

TeamBy Michael Levy

Successful leaders develop relationships with their team based on trust. Employees, when they feel trusted, supported and engaged, will give special effort to leaders they trust. Because the opposite is also true: employees rarely excel under the punitive thumb of someone they do not trust and who they feel does not trust them.

A lack of trust affects morale, personal and customer satisfaction, as the employees shift energy and focus from working on real issues that positively impact their company and its customers, to the resentment and dissatisfaction they hold towards management.

Here are 10 ways to build trust:

1) Establish and Maintain Honesty and Integrity

Honesty and integrity are the foundations of trust in any organisation, and they must begin at the top. Leading by example, management must demonstrate and instil honesty and integrity throughout the organisation.

Managers must be consistently truthful, regardless of circumstances. Share good and bad news openly. Eliminate gossip and diffuse inappropriate politics. Great managers know that they are not perfect and they make mistakes. Better to admit them rather than ignore them or cover them up.

Leaders demonstrate moral, strong values, methods, and principles. They do what you say they will do and make their actions visible. Team members quickly pick up on insincerity and broken promises.

2) Establish Strong Business Ethics

Managers need to set the moral tone for the work place. Teams with common ethics are healthier, more productive, adaptable, responsive, and resourceful because they are united under one common value set. High standards will never harm the relationships you have with employees.

3) Communicate Vision and Values

Communication is important, since it provides the artery for information and truth. By communicating the organisation’s vision, management defines where it’s going. By communicating its values, it establishes the methods for getting there.

4) Communicate Effectively

Managers who communicate openly and frequently, build relationship and trust. A lack of interaction erodes trust. Face to face interaction is the best method to build trust.

5) To Get Trust You Need to Give Trust

It is important for a manager to create an environment of trust. This begins by trusting others. It is more effective to assume employees are trustworthy unless they prove otherwise rather than waiting to give trust when they haven’t earned it. As team members come to feel they are trusted by their manager, they will find it easier to trust in return.

6) Keep Interactions Consistent and Predictable from the Beginning

Building trust is a process – which starts with the initial actions of the manager, establishing norms and expectations. Trust results from consistent and predictable interaction over time.

7) Be Accessible and Responsive

Find ways to be regularly available to team members. When interacting, be responsive. Be action rather than talk oriented. Don’t just think about taking action – do it.

8) Maintain Confidences.

Team members need to be able to express concerns, identify problems, share sensitive information, and surface relevant issues. It is important early on to get agreement as to how confidential data will be handled.

9) Watch your Language

It is important that a manager’s language does not imply “us” or “them”. Terminology should be easy to understand. Leaders should stick with business language, rather than strong or vulgar language.

10) Create Social time for the Team

A lot of trust and confidence is built through informal social interaction. Successful managers ensure that social opportunities happen regularly.

Building trust with employees is critical for creating an effective team that works well together. Taking time to build trust will reap benefits for managers that make the effort.