Does Building Trust Really Matter?
Have you considered the reasons why you go to work or do your job? For some, maybe you’re working remotely? What makes you walk into your home office every day? Some managers might assume that the primary force behind their employees coming to work every day is simply to do their job. The truth is that we all work for many different reasons, including having a sense of purpose, strengthening, and expanding connections, financial security, the chance to make an impact and contribute to a bigger cause, curiosity, the possibility to innovate, self-development, challenge, etc. However, there is one element that makes a significant impact on most people’s levels of motivation to do their jobs on a daily basis: trust.
Trust refers to “feelings of security and confidence in one’s leadership, managers and co-workers that help employees feel good about their relationships at work, and the idea that they are valued members of a cohesive team.” According to 55% of CEOs who took part in a global survey by PwC in 2016, lack of trust is a threat to an organization’s growth. Despite the negative impact of the lack of trust for businesses, little has been done to increase trust levels as many executives do not know where to start. In this article, we will explore the impact of trust in the workplace and what it means for you as a leader and your team.
Low Employee Engagement & Talent Attraction
Employee engagement is a problem that affects many different businesses. Low employee engagement means an overall lack of buy-in, and employees feel they occupy an unessential role. A lack of engaged employees can lead to the following adverse outcomes: (1) poor adoption of changes, (2) higher stress levels, (3) greater sick days away from work, (4) lower productivity and engagement, (5) less energy at work, (6) more burnout, and (7) higher turnover levels. Being able to create and encourage employee engagement is crucial for success and talent retention. Companies and leaders that promote a culture of trust will have an advantage in the war for talent. Think about it, “Who would choose to stay in a stressful, divisive atmosphere if offered a productive, supportive one?”3
Creating a Culture of Trust
One of the primary roles of a leader is to help your people realize their capacity and power. The more you invest in building trust, the more possible it will be to put this kind of leadership into practice. Cultivating a culture of trust takes place through clear directions, equipping employees with what they need to meet the companies objectives, giving them autonomy, supporting people along the way, holding them accountable without micromanaging, and treating them as responsible adults.
Tips for Building Trust
Recognize Excellence—Validate your employees by praising them when they do well. Recognition has a strong effect on trust when it happens right after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, is tangible, personal, and takes place publicly. If someone goes above and beyond, show them how much you appreciate it.
Promote Autonomy – Being trusted to figure things out has a very positive impact on motivation. Once employees are trained, allow them to manage others and execute projects in their own way.
Communicate—Be open and transparent with your team. Make sure your team is kept in the loop with big changes. The more employees are clear about the company’s direction, the less stress levels they will face, and the more they will trust their leaders.
Build Relationships—Being close to your team is crucial for trust-building. Research indicates that building social ties at work improves people’s performance. Start creating bonds!
Leadership skills can vary in importance, but trust-building is one skill that simply isn’t optional. High-trust organizations witness a more productive and energized workforce, who stay longer, report higher levels of happiness with their lives, and deliver improved performance. The return on trust will make you a much better leader and your organization stronger.
Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.
 Gallup (2017). State of global workplace, Gallup Press: New York.  Zak, P.J. (2017) The neuroscience of trust. Harvard Business Review, 95(1), pp.84-90.  Hurley, R. F. (2006). The decision to trust. Harvard business review, 84(9), 55-62.  Frei, F.X. and Morriss, A. (2020). Begin with trust. Harvard Business Review, 98(3), pp.112-121.