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In business, you won’t earn trust without transparency and openness. Company leaders who promote open communication are more likely to be trusted and to have an engaged and productive workforce. There are several proven methods that managers and employees can use to make trust part of company culture. First, it’s important to understand what trust means in the workplace.

Understanding Trust

When you trust someone or something, you know you can rely on their truthfulness and reliability. You feel secure when dealing with them and know their behavior will be predictable. Business author Stephen Covey called trust the glue of life. “It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can’t gain trust overnight. You must build it over time by behaving in a consistently trustworthy manner. This is true for both individuals and companies. Most Americans think levels of trust are declining. According to Pew Research data, 75% of U.S. adults say trust in the federal government is shrinking, and 64% believe there is less interpersonal trust.

Why is Trust Important in the Workplace?

With more people working remotely, the need for trust among coworkers is at an all-time high. People who don’t trust each other are less likely to share ideas and collaborate. They won’t seek advice or help from each other and may even throw obstacles in others’ way. 

When companies practice transparency about issues like pay, profit sharing, and career advancement, employees feel they are being treated fairly. On the other hand, when employees don’t trust company leaders due to a lack of transparency, they become disengaged. The company misses out on their creativity and productivity because they don’t feel open enough to contribute fully. U.S. companies lose billions of dollars each year due to the problem of employee disengagement. 

Proven Ways to Build Workplace Trust

Encouraging open and transparent communication between managers and employees is a good starting point for building workplace trust. Although it may take time and require changes to company culture, workplace transparency costs nothing to implement.

While there are different methods for building trust in the workplace, a number of actionable steps can build organizational trust with leaders, teams, and individuals:

  1. “Promises made, promises kept.”  Follow through on promises.
  2. Communicate with leaders, teams, your colleagues, direct reports, and customers.
  3. Remember the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you like to be treated.”
  4. Be honest about your strengths, areas you want to learn, and your mistakes.
  5. Know yourself, know your team.
  6. Understand what each team member brings to the table and leverage their strengths.
  7. Maintain positive interactions with your teammates.
  8. Support your team.
  9. Live the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values.
  10. Trust takes a long time to earn, and can be easily lost.

Building Trust Takes Time

The effort needed to build trusting relationships in the workplace is a marathon, not a sprint. Accept that you’re in it for the long haul. If you honor your commitments and practice transparency, you will eventually earn the respect of those around you and gain the reputation of being a trustworthy person. 

The same holds true for companies. Creating a high-trust culture takes time but is well worth the investment. Trust can boost productivity, fuel innovation, and help attract top talent while contributing to the emotional health and wellbeing of employees. That’s a win for everyone.

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