Dec 14, 2021 Vas Nair
Nurturing A Culture Of Trust
Anytime I read something about building trust or creating a culture of trust…I think, Why Does This Seem So Difficult? Have We Forgotten How Important Trust Is?
The answers to these questions are not as important as reminding oneself to continuously take a temperature check. I’m talking about ‘HOW’ we work together and ‘WHY’ we enjoy working together (or not!).
You see, placing confidence in the people we work with means that we trust them. This is an important aspect of the relationships we have with our colleagues and other stakeholders because, without them, we cannot succeed in our job. Years of research globally show that employees in ‘high trust’ companies report less stress and have more energy at work, therefore resulting in greater engagement and productivity. So, it goes without saying that trusting partnerships help maintain a productive work environment.
What does this look like?
In a trust-based culture, employees feel ‘safe’ to share ideas, challenge archaic ways of thinking, and be open about their mistakes – which invariably produces priceless learning opportunities. They show more empathy to each other and dealing with conflict involves working together on a solution versus suspecting the other party of foul play. Team members understand that their diverse, collective strengths produce results for the greater good versus hidden agendas and selfish motives. When teams work together, they win together. This positive energy further fuels empowerment, professional development, healthy relationships, and stronger results.
From the lens of a leader or as a manager of others, it’s part of that role to establish a culture that promotes trust. Similarly, team members (even without management responsibilities), play an integral part in fostering an environment that encourages openness, strengthens collaboration and trusting partnerships. I agree that leaders at all levels need to characterize what’s important, however it’s incumbent upon the entire team to do its part for trusting relationships to develop and grow.
Why does this matter?
All employees, regardless of title, want to feel valued and be motivated to succeed. They want to enjoy their work and build positive relationships with their colleagues. Similar to personal relationships, trust is at the heart of making workplace associations thrive. Think about a time when you needed help to finish a task, and how you relied on others to help. You would’ve reached out to people you trusted and knew you could count on, right? The reverse is also true. People who trust you will ask for guidance and assistance because they know that you’ll do the right thing and help. Finally, during times of transformation, trust helps overcome resistance to change, as employees are more open to what’s ahead.
A call to action!
To enable a work environment that showcases inclusion, openness and trust, everyone must band together to facilitate and encourage it. Every team member must have the foundational elements of integrity, capability, accountability, respect, and teamwork for this to succeed. It’s like bringing together the essential ingredients in a recipe!
Your commitments may not always allow you to be visible to all your colleagues. That’s understandable, however using ‘I’m too busy’ as your rationale won’t fly! Communicating regularly and effectively tends to open up the willingness to share ideas and learn – which in turn can drive stronger collaboration. Make it a point to establish frequent communications and set-up different ways to reach your colleagues and business partners. For example, send thank you emails that recognize ‘wins’; offer to coach others; establish monthly check-ins with business updates; or drop by the lunchroom as often as you can.
Show that you care:
Take time to genuinely understand how people are feeling. This is especially critical in times of high stress, change or when team members are working remotely. Asking ‘How are you?’ is a start, and as often as you can, take a deeper dive into something that was recently mentioned. For instance – a client interaction, recent holiday, or a topic of interest. Remember – people will be more connected with you when they know that you’re interested in them as individuals.
Talk less and take in more of what’s being said. By pausing and asking questions, you’re taking the time to learn more about the scenario, what’s going on and how team members are coping or adjusting. By doing this, you’re encouraging others to reach out, and this is especially important when they need help to manage a tough issue.
Do what you say you’ll do:
Do the right thing, stick to your commitments and be consistent, because it supports the language of integrity and trust. (In other words, we tend to trust people who are dependable). If you’re not able to, make the effort to explain why, which brings me to the next point…
Be honest and admit mistakes:
This may not always be easy to do! But we’re all human and can falter from time to time. Saying ‘sorry’ or ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find out’ shows that you’re willing to own it and learn from any missteps. You’re now making yourself approachable and relatable, which improves lines of communication.
Show the way:
You never want to say one thing and do another. This goes against being trustworthy. Also, team members will talk about and see behaviors and actions that are encouraged or reprimanded. For instance, if aggressive behavior, rudeness, or tardiness are all seen to be ‘acceptable’, then these will be considered ‘OK’ to do at work. The bottom line is, a destructive work environment is NOT conducive to establishing successful partnerships, let alone building trust!
Hold people accountable:
This is especially important when you have ‘people management’ responsibilities. When things go well, then you should recognize, and celebrate achievements. However, when they don’t, it’s a manager’s responsibility to hold people accountable and get things back on track. This shows strength and encourages confidence in you.
When employees feel like they’re part of a company that treats them with respect and values their contributions – morale and engagement will increase. This brings with it loyalty and the desire to be part of a strong team. People naturally want to belong to a winning team and ultimately, they want to be part of a healthier and happier work environment. These characteristics build the platform for creating trust amongst employees while breaking down silos.
I think we know that all of this just doesn’t happen overnight. And yes, it takes work! But don’t all things of value demand commitment, perseverance, and focus?
We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.