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July 10, 2012

8 Ways to Increase Trust in the Workplace

By Beth Armknecht Miller, president and executive coach at Executive Velocity, Inc.

So why is it important to have a trusting workplace? And how do you know if you have one?

Studies show that a trusting workplace increases employees’ level of happiness, work effort, productivity, and engagement. It also provides an environment that encourages open communication and promotes people to share their ideas.  When people feel comfortable sharing their ideas, there is a greater capacity for innovation within an organization keeping a company current and relevant in the marketplace.

Evaluating the level of trust in your workplace

Below are eight factors that studies have shown influence trust in the workplace:

  1. OPENESS: Do you as a leader display having an open mind? As a leader, when you show others around you that you are open to new ideas and encourage others to share their opposing opinions not only do you create an environment of trust but you are enabling innovation within the organization.
  2. VISION AND VALUES: Are both vision and values communicated and lived on a consistent basis?  Without a vision for your company and a set of values, your employees will not have a sense of direction.  When they understand where the company is headed and it will you get to there, they trust decisions that are being made in the organization because they understand them. The key is to make decisions consistent to your values. It isn’t enough to put values down on paper; they need to be demonstrated throughout the entire organization.
  3. COURAGE: Do company leaders have the courage to do the right thing even if the decision or action could put them at risk?  It takes courage to stay the course when obstacles get in the way of your vision. Leaders often take the easy way out when faced with difficult challenges.  Those who are able to make the tough decisions which support the company’s values, build trust and respect amongst their team members. They do the right thing even if in the short term it impacts them in a negative way.
  4. SHARED GOALS: Do employees understand how their individual goals impact the organization’s goals?  Goals that are shared build stronger and more committed teams. And when the goals are clearly linked back to the company’s vision, you are strengthening the understanding of your company’s journey and how you will get there.
  5. COMMUNITY: Does your organization promote giving back to its community? Community service projects build relationships amongst employees and are viewed as not self-serving by employees. And, when employees are involved with the decision process of what projects the company should be involved with, they feel important and you show them that you value their opinions and ideas.
  6. INTEGRITY: Do leaders keep their promise and commitments to employees?  Do they tell the truth to them?  When leaders are transparent and share information honestly, employees trust what is being told them. Promise and commitments are not just those that are made to individuals but to the organization as well. So what are those promises and commitments you make to an organization as a leader? They are things like stewardship of company resources including finances and human resources. They watch over the finances by making sound decisions and develop their employees’ talent to the best of their ability.
  7. MANNERS: Are employees recognized for good work and thanked for their hard efforts? Companies whose leaders consistently thank, praise, and reward employees for their good efforts demonstrate good manners and increase the level of trust employees have in the company and their leaders.
  8. CARE: Do employees feel like leadership cares about them? Companies with leaders who make all employees feel important and part of the team create a feeling of safety. They actively listen, are visible and accessible, and take an interest in people’s personal lives. Employees feel genuinely cared for by their employer.

If you really want to get understand how your employees rate workplace trust, develop an employee feedback survey to determine what areas you and your organization need to improve on to increase the level of trust.  The sooner you identify the areas of needed improvement, the sooner you can put a plan of action into place to increase your employees’ productivity, engagement, and level of happiness.

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