After a turbulent year, trust is at an all-time low. Distrust in our politicians, healthcare system, media outlets, and leaders, has become the norm. So now, more than ever, prioritizing and building trust within your company is vital to your success. Here is why trust is so important, and 3 steps you can implement to start earning it.
Why trust is the lifeblood of your company:
Research abounds to support the significance of trust within an organization (check out Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer Report to dig into the data) and the list of benefits is dense.
Here are a few that should pique your interest:
- Trust creates a sense of belonging (and this is arguably the #1 factor in employee retention and engagement)
- Trust promotes communication, creativity and innovation
- Trust has a positive, and significant, impact on advocacy, loyalty, and commitment among staff
- Trust fosters collaboration which in turn increases productivity and efficiency
- Trust within a company directly correlates to less stress and burnout among employees
- Trust enables better resilience to change
3 steps to start building trust within your business:
Creating a company culture that is rooted in trust can result in a more resilient, innovative and efficient business. It also can be the fuel for retaining happier, more engaged, and less stressed employees. So how do you do it? Here are 3 steps to get you started:
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this. Communication is ESSENTIAL to building trust within your company.
But communication has also had an overhaul in identity in recent years that you need to consider. Long gone are town halls and company newsletters where the conversation was one sided, or the employee voice was only welcomed in a controlled and defined forum. For communication to be effective in building trust, employees now expect your intercompany dialogue to be to be honest, often, open, and fluid across the organization. Here is a breakdown of what we mean:
Honest: it seems intuitive, but often in the temptation to control the dialogue or the feedback, companies are reluctant to be completely honest, or at best they are vague. That’s not to say you have to share every nugget of sensitive information, but for instance, if you know that bad results are on the horizon, be honest about what you can share. Your employees are smart, they will feel if you are hiding something and no matter what the forthcoming news, they will assume the worst.
Often: to borrow a quote from The Inspiring Change blog: “if you can’t say anything, don’t say nothing.” Frequent, proactive communication with your employees will make them feel as though they belong, and that they are part of something bigger. It will also, over time, reduce the stress of the unknown.
Two way (not town hall): create open communication strategies that allow and encourage your employees to speak up (even when you’ve not asked for their specific feedback)
Fluid: Up and down and across the organization: Communication needs to be fluid to and from leadership as well as with peers. This sets the stage for trust to also follow the same inclusive path.
2. Empower employees
The second trust building pillar is to empower employees. In short, if you don’t take what they say to heart, they will stop speaking up, and worse, have distrust that you wanted their feedback in the first place. Of course, you can’t implement every idea, but finding ways to empower and include your employees in change, innovation, and improvement will make them feel that their voice matters, and even better, that they belong. The sense of belonging is debatably the #1 factor influencing employee retention, engagement and loyalty long term.
3. Authenticity in leadership
Yes, often as leaders we are tasked with being the cheerleaders and optimists. But sharing your own vulnerabilities and struggles in an authentic productive way, also sends a clear message that perfection is not expected and communication and honesty are embraced. If a manger never admits to having a disheartening day, or a frustration with a current process, how likely will their team be to voice their own struggles or ideas for improvement? Leaders must emulate the behavior they want from their staff. If they want employees to talk to them and speak up when they are unhappy or challenged, leaders must do the same.
Building a culture of trust does not happen overnight. It is a deliberate, proactive, prioritized process that, if done right, can yield exceptionally positive results for your company. The competition to retain and attract good talent is at an all-time high, especially with the innovation of sustained remote working. To be desirable to both prospective, and current employees, and to excel in the day to day operation of your business, put your energy into building trust across your organization. It will be worth your investment!