Trust is present when we rely on someone else to do the right thing and believe in that person’s integrity. A lack of trust is a common root cause of many workplace conflicts that cost companies a lot of productive time and money. According to a CPP Inc report, in the U.S. alone, employees spend 2.1 hours per week resolving conflicts, which amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours. It doesn’t stop there. A toxic work environment with a lack of trust and high levels of anxiety kills motivation and leads to employee burnout and stress.
On the other hand, a high-trust environment creates perfect conditions for collaboration because everyone feels safe and comfortable to openly talk and share their thoughts and opinions. Over time, these conditions foster innovation and creative thinking while uplifting overall organisational performance. Leadership plays a central role in building a team that trusts each other. So what can you do as a leader to build trust within you team? Take note of the following tips, which will help you better understand how to achieve this:
Some leaders are afraid of losing control over work, hence deciding to micro manage and over supervise their team. This creates a negative perception amongst employees whereby the leader lacks trust and confidence in the team. Allowing employees to act independently and providing empowerment builds a sense of accountability while instilling a sense of value and trust from their leader. This not only builds trust, but it also helps employees feel more committed to their work responsibilities and deliver at a higher level as they gain a greater sense of control over their work.
If your team members don’t feel comfortable and close to other members of the group, they may find it difficult to rely on and trust one another. It is therefore crucial to break these workplace relationship barriers to build trust within the team. Hosting out-of-office or after-hours gatherings that allow employees to get to know each other and build strong bonds can go a long way. This can take the form of sharing personal stories, engaging in hobbies, discussing cultural tastes, and even performing team-building activities.
As human beings, it’s common for us to make mistakes no matter how skilled we are in our work. If people start blaming each other and pointing fingers on such occasions, this can make for a very unpleasant atmosphere. Not only that, it builds fear within individuals, who may think that others on the team have lost confidence and trust in them. These perceptions can lower morale and stifle productivity. Instead, creating a culture where people view and fix their mistakes in a more constructive, supportive manner can foster collaboration and trust within the team.
Trust is built upon emotions. One of the best ways to build trust is to show empathy toward your employees and look after them in both good and bad situations. For example, we all witnessed how Covid-19 led thousands of workers to lose their jobs in 2020. Despite the tough conditions, some business leaders made it a priority to protect their employees and look out for their best interests during the pandemic. When employees know that their leader is genuinely committed to protect them and stand with them, in both work and personal matters, they feel a strong sense of trust towards leadership.
When you open up to others by sharing your work schedules, progress and status, they will not feel surprised and/or upset if something goes wrong that would otherwise make them believe you are not reliable team member. Not only that, be open about yourself. If you don’t know the answer to a problem or do something wrong, openly admit it. This way, team members will know that you are a trustworthy person regardless of your capabilities and knowledge in that particular moment.
Trust is an essential building block for a high-performing team, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, trust results from both leadership and team members genuinely committing to one another over an extended period of time. A good starting point to implement these tips is to assess your team culture based on employee feedback. This way, you can identify whether a high-trust or low-trust team culture currently exists and then implement these tips accordingly to address specific gaps.
MyTeamPulse is a tool that helps you track the pulse of your team and gives them a voice in their team development journey. The same platform allows you to assess your team culture and helps you build positive and empowering cultures within the team dynamic.
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