TSI Blog

Trust In Me

October 16th, 2014 by Alison McKinney

There has never been a more important time to have an engaged workforce. Engaged employees are more likely to put in more discretionary effort to go the extra mile for their employers and with this enthusiasm comes a better and more valuable customer and client experience.

OK, so not all employees consider their employers to be slippery snakes, but trust is one of the most important aspects when it comes to employee engagement as well as being one of the keys to the wellbeing of employees and the performance of an organisation.

Developing and maintaining trust is critical to success in an individual’s career, workplace teams, leadership and business. Trust is the foundation for all things good in workplaces.

So how do you gain and maintain trust?

Whilst there is no quick simple answer, trust comes from how people behave, and some of the following suggestions seem quite obvious.

1. Be Honest

The first step in building trust is to be honest. Remain honest with your employees about both positive and negative aspects of the business, even if it’s to your disadvantage. Expect your management team to maintain the same level of honesty with the employees.

Tell the truth. At the end of the day, even small lies and twisted truths are still lies.

Having this sense of integrity makes your employees and colleagues more trusting of your actions.

2. Use Good Judgment

It’s good to know what information to share, when to share it and when not to share it. Protect employee’s personal information and company or competitors’ proprietary information as if it were your own.

Give some forethought before sharing a blunt, unsolicited judgment. Extreme honesty may hurt the recipient, ironically destroying trust and the safe environment.

It’s wise to avoid “just between us” secret conversations unless it is absolutely necessary to the benefit of the organisation.

And don’t expect apologies to erase any wrongdoings. Apologies might earn a forgive, but perhaps not a forget.

3. Say what you mean and mean what you say

Sincerity is the assessment that you are honest. It’s about saying what you mean and meaning what you say so that you can be believed and be taken seriously. It also means that when you express an opinion, it is valid. People will question your sincerity when you don’t act in accordance with what you say.

4. Walk the talk

In additional to saying what you mean and meaning what you say, being able to build and sustain trust also involves walking the talk.

Do what you say you will do. Fulfil your promises.

People will immediately recognise when you advocate one value with your words but demonstrate the opposite of that value through your actions. This will undermine your trustworthiness as a leader or co-worker. By always seeking to act in a manner consistent with your words you not only lead by example but you build trust.

5. Listen

Value all input from your employees. Encourage employees at all levels to share their ideas for improving the organisation. Listen with an open mind even if you don’t ultimately choose to follow a suggestion made by an employee.

Taking the time to listen to understand the opinion of others demonstrates respect and acknowledges the other person’s perspective. People invariably trust leaders who acknowledge their ideas and opinions. Listening for understanding does not mean that you must agree with others, but it does require that you truly want to hear what others have to say and are open to their ideas.

6. Foster a blame-free culture

Interacting with your co-workers openly and directly builds trust and commitment to the team. If you are a leader, ensure you create an environment where your people are not afraid to be honest and open. Just as accountability is a critical element to building and sustaining trust, so is promoting an environment where if mistakes are made, no blame is apportioned.

Trust is such an important thing that if you are a leader or a member of a team, you should spend time reflecting on what you do and what you should do in order to create and sustain trust.

By following the above suggestions, there really should be no excuses for being complacent about such an important component of employee engagement.

If you would like more information on how to increase employee engagement levels in your organisation, then call us on +44 (0) 1255 850051 or complete our online web form.

Written by Alison McKinney
Alison McKinney is the Project and Quality Assurance Manager at The Survey Initiative, a dedicated employee research organisation devoted to helping its clients gain insight and understanding into what drives employee engagement in their business. Alison has extensive experience in project management and quality assurance and has recently worked on projects for clients as diverse as: WSP Middle East. Natural History Museum, Peverel, Marine Stewardship Council, Accor UK &Ireland and Thompsons Solicitors. Visit http://www.surveyinitiative.co.uk for more information.

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