According to a study conducted by Interaction Associates, only 40% of employees report that they “really trust their bosses.” However, 82% of survey respondents say that trusting their boss is “essential for them to be effective in their job.” So as a boss or manager, what can you do next year to make sure your employees trust you? Here are 5 ways you can build trust with your employees this year.
This does not mean you should get your whole team glass walls for their offices or cubicles. This does mean you should make it a priority to talk to your team about upcoming promotions, initiatives or policies that will affect them on any level. As a manager or leader, you need to figure out the best way to communicate with your team, and let it be a two-way street.
Conducting all your business with the other leaders in your company and letting your team find out about it through a company memo or email will leave your employees feeling blindsided. Not only will it feel sudden, but it will also feel like this decision is final and no one asked them about how they felt about the change in direction or policy. Do you know how hard it is to get employee buy-in on something they don’t feel they had a part in determining? If you thought collecting feedback, dealing with the feedback of many employees, and then tailoring your approach with their feedback front and center was a challenge, just imagine what it’s going to feel like when your announcement falls on deaf ears, and all your managers are going to be doing is explaining and enforcing the new policy with almost no success.
2.Stop being a micromanager
You pay your team to help meet your goals and objectives. You can’t dive into the minutia of their tasks to figure out if they’re doing their jobs. Certainly, if an issue is brought to your attention, you’ll be forced to jump in from time to time. However, as a good leader, you should be focused on how to get them to do their best work, not checking up on them. Ideally, you’ll have put stop-gaps in place for you to assess their performance on a regular basis without the check-ins feeling like the actions of a helicopter parent. Take it one step further. Ask your least-challenged employee to help you with a tough project. Even though you know they won’t be able to handle it solo, you’ll be giving them the impression that their growth and development is important to you, and you trust and value their work.
3.Don’t overpromise and under-deliver
If you’re already doing step one and step two, don’t sabotage those fantastic traits by promising your team the world and failing to deliver. Don’t tell them that they’ll all get a 25% raise this year if you can’t come through for them. It’s disastrous on multiple fronts, but overarchingly, it eats away at the credibility you have with your team. There will only be so many times that you can promise wonderful things, fail to follow through, and still have your team trust you. In fact, if you get away with this more than once and still have a team that follows you and believes in you, you’re luckier than most!
This is a follow up to point number one. If you ask for feedback about where you your team wants to go for lunch, you’re buying, and no one gets back to you, you have an issue. If they can’t tell you how they’re feeling about a lunch destination, there’s no way they’re going to talk to you when the wheels are coming off the bus. The reason this is a problem is because you may have a cultural issue. You might be dealing with a culture of fear; meaning your employees are afraid of the outcome if they share their thoughts. Or you might be dealing with a lemming culture; meaning everyone falls in line and they don’t want to think outside the box or spend any more time at work than is absolutely necessary. If you’re dealing with those two cultures, your trust as a leader has taken a hit. Your way out? Start with point number one and go down this list. Your culture will improve, but it’s going to take time and effort on your part.
5.Be a problem-solver
The best leaders ask themselves two questions almost daily, “Who can I help,” and “What problem can I solve?” When you approach your job in terms of these two questions, the needs of your team should quickly bubble to the surface. Figure out what you can do to make the lives of your employees easier. Show them that what they want and need out of their workplace is important to you, and that you’re working on figuring out the best way to meet their needs. You don’t have to fix everything, but you should at least show that you’re making an effort. Additionally, if you’ve added an employee to your team that has proven to be toxic over the last year, did you know that the Harvard Business Review reported that avoiding hiring one toxic employee can save a company more than twice as much as hiring a star performer? If you’ve got someone on the team that’s engaging in manipulative, damaging behavior, the best thing you can do is figure out how to remove them from your team. Your team will likely thank you for it!
A sixth best practice to add to the list is to recognize a job well done. When one of your employees does a fantastic job, sing it from the rooftops and make sure the employee is compensated for their extra effort. Even if the star employee is an introvert, they will be flattered that their contribution was not only noticed, but celebrated. This Tolero study found that 45% of employees identify lack of trust as the main issue interfering with their performance at work. If you put these five principles to work for you not only will your turnover rate improve, but the productivity of your team should also experience a spike this year.