Many of us spend the majority of our working week with our colleagues. Like any relationship, it’s important to cultivate trust among our people. We want to create a culture of creativity and innovation, give people the freedom to express and share their ideas and ensure that people align with our goals. This is especially important during phases of growth, as it becomes harder to keep tabs on the state of the company proactively. Instead, we need to have the confidence to delegate to the right people without becoming disconnected from the subtle issues that can make or break our business.
- Does our business have a coherent vision?
- Have we communicated to our people the mission and direction of the company?
- Do we have buy-in from them?
- Are there concerns we haven’t addressed?
Our vision is crucial to laying the foundations for trust. The company’s mission statement needs to be backed up by a concrete plan that plots the path to success. If our company’s vision is nothing but a vague promise or half-baked idea, how can we expect our people to trust in what we want to deliver? If our people lack faith in our company’s goal, they will also lose respect for our leadership team and be more prone to conflict in the workplace.
- Do your people know whom to talk to about any given issue?
- Is the leadership team engaged and connected with your people?
Few things damage the trust in business faster than ill-defined lines of communication. If one of your people has a problem but is not clear on the correct contact within a company, what do they do? At worst, they might ignore it and hope that somebody else takes responsibility in the future. That might sound like they’re culpable for any problems the issue causes, but in reality, the leadership team is.
Leaders need to be engaged and part of that engagement is establishing clear lines of communication that remain open no matter what changes are occurring within the organisation. Furthermore, leaders need to find the time to get out and talk to their people, walk around the business and listen to what they have to say.
Internal Relationship Building
- What do you know about your people?
- What makes your people tick?
Part of talking to your people involves understanding them. We build trust by demonstrating we are trustworthy, that we have empathy and that we care. Ask yourself, why would anyone want to be led by you? Are you the manager that you’d want to be managed by?
Trust is a byproduct of cementing solid relationships with your people. By getting to know individuals on a personal level, you can better understand what makes them tick. You can learn about issues that might be affecting their performance, and they will feel more secure in coming to you with problems they may be facing. If you come across as distant and closed-off, then people will see you as someone to avoid.
Ask for Feedback
- Do you know what your people think of you?
- What would happen if your people appraised you?
Just as we give annual appraisals to our people, offering them constructive feedback, pointers and a rundown of what their future looks like, so too should we be open to feedback.
As the adage goes, the key to fixing any problem is to recognise it exists. We should regularly approach our employees, seeking their feedback on different areas of our leadership. Do we tend to micro-manage or perhaps we don’t give enough instruction? Maybe we don’t give enough praise, or we offer too much that it’s become meaningless.
Whatever is the case, we want to make sure our people know that they’re heard. By doing so, we demonstrate that nobody is above constructive criticism and that all feedback is considered.