As a leader, you need to be able to build trust with those who are most valuable to you – your employees. When a leader is trusted within an organisation, employees feel that they can honestly and comfortably raise issues. This makes for a more productive organisation as a whole and is very important for long-term, stable success. Regardless of whether you manage one other person, or lead an organisation of over 200, consider these seven tips for building trust with your staff.
1. Lead by example
One of the greatest ways to build trust in a leadership environment is by showing people that you are happy to be involved in any way. There is nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t pitch in when employees need a hand. It makes staff feel like you think you are better than them. You may sit higher on the organisational chart, but at the end of the day everyone must contribute to the tasks at hand. To build greater trust in your actions, show employees that you are willing to do the more menial tasks too to help the team achieve goals.
2. Be authentic
As you would be aware, trust cannot be built overnight and takes a number of authentic interactions with a person and/or a team. If you want people to trust you and your decisions, this authenticity cannot be forged. Take the time to get to know your employees – be yourself and show that you are human too. Display a genuine interest in what each person has to say and your authenticity will shine through.
3. Demonstrate commitment
A good leader must hold to their promises in order to build trust in them and their intentions. You must show staff that you mean what you say, and if you can’t keep a commitment, you must be very honest about why. In this case, it is important to make up the lost commitment to show that it is not a common incidence. If you expect commitment from others, you must demonstrate it yourself and show that people can rely on you.
4. Be competent
When a leader is incompetent and doesn’t understand the basic functions of each department they manage, it can be difficult to build trust and respect with employees. While you don’t have to be a technical expert in everything, you must take the time to at least understand the technical aspects of each role. This will result in you respecting your staff more for their skill sets, as well as staff respecting you more for understanding the bigger picture of the organisation.
5. Showcase your integrity
One of the key qualities of a trustworthy person is personal integrity. Integrity in the workplace essentially means that you do the right thing while no one is watching. It’s important for staff to understand what morals you have and for them to be able to see these reflected in your leadership style. This helps to build trust as it showcases your true character and allows staff to see who you really are.
6. Be accessible
As a trustworthy leader, staff must feel like they are able to approach you about anything – both positive and negative. If you are inaccessible to staff, whether this be through a hierarchy or a closed-door policy, you must assess whether this is a constructive way to manage people. An open-door policy is a good step and shows that staff are able to pop their heads in to chat. If you don’t wish to be interrupted, ensure that staff know that they can comfortably schedule meetings with you and you are always open to topics of conversation.
7. Trust others
If you would like to build trust with your employees, you must also show that you trust them with the work that they do. When staff are micromanaged or constantly supervised, this can make them feel like they are not trusted to perform in their role. You must be able to take a step back and show that you trust what they are doing – in turn, this will be reciprocated.
What do you think?
Can you think of any other tips to the list? When looking to build trust, it is not a simple or easy process to follow. It takes some time to build relationships, however, the above tips will certainly set you in the right direction. Comment your views below and join the AIB conversation.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.