If you’re going to run a business, it’s crucial that your employees have a great degree of trust in you. It’ll be a struggle trying to assign tasks to them and expecting them to complete those tasks if your staff don’t feel like you’re a trustworthy leader.
Inspiring trust in your employees is a skill you can pick up, but it’s going to take time, patience, and dedication. Here are ten ways any entrepreneur can build trust among their employees.
1. Hold corporate events
Corporate events don’t just have to be for investors or interested parties; you can also hold them for your staff. It’ll buoy confidence and appreciation for upper management if staff have something to look forward to. There is, of course, an art to planning a great corporate event. This could go wrong just as easily as it could go right. Look into fun, crazy things like Glow Inflatables. That’s a surefire way to inject some fun and excitement into any corporate party.
2. Be prepared to put in work
Building trust in your employees won’t happen overnight. They need a reason to believe in you, and you’re not going to give them that reason simply by asking them to trust you. Instead, you need to recognise that building trust is going to take hard work. When employees come to you, there are many services you can perform: listening, offering advice, even finding loans for people on benefits if a family member of a work colleague is struggling, for example.
3. Be a good listener
You might be tempted to offer up opinions when employees raise concerns or suggestions for the operation of the business. Instead, it’s a good idea to simply sit back and listen to their ideas. If an employee feels like they’re being listened to, they’ll be more likely to consider you a good leader and will place their trust in you in the future. In addition, you might hear a great idea that could well be integrated into your business strategy. Don’t neglect employees’ ideas – they could be great!
4. Keep a consistent behaviour pattern
If your employees can’t reasonably predict how you’ll respond in a given situation, then you can’t ask them to trust you. When you’re applying a consistent and successful strategy to business decisions, your employees will see that you’ve got a plan and be more likely to place their faith in you. Conversely, if you’re scattershot in terms of not only your business strategy but your mood, then your employees won’t ever know which “version” of you they’re going to get.
5. Practical vs. emotional trust – know the difference
There’s a big difference between your employees trusting you to make good business decisions and them trusting you with personal issues. A good leader builds trust in both areas; you should be approachable when an employee feels they have something personal that’s getting in the way of their work, but you should also be an exemplar in business terms. It’s important to know the difference between these two trust factors, because they involve different steps if you want to master them.
6. Be truthful
When your business is in the black, it’s easy to be truthful with employees about the company’s health. It’s much harder when the business is struggling, or when you’ve forgotten something important that an employee needed you to do. If you lie, you’ll have to compound lies in order to keep the untruth going. If you’re upfront and tell the truth, your employees will appreciate your honesty and understand that you’re just trying to do your best.
7. Take constructive criticism
As a manager or a business owner, you’re here for your customers, yes, but also your employees. They might have suggestions on how you might improve your managerial technique. If you simply dismiss them or react adversely to them, then your employees won’t feel like you’re fostering an environment of respect. Learning to take constructive criticism is difficult; there’s a fine line between helpful comments and simply being critical. Still, it’s something you’ll need to learn if you want to build trust.
8. Be accountable
Nobody likes it when a manager refuses to accept responsibility for a bad decision. If you make a call and it doesn’t pan out well, don’t try to delegate or shift blame. Employees respect a boss who can accept when they’ve done something less than ideal for the company’s reputation or bottom line. If you try to deny that it was your fault, or shift the blame, employees won’t respect you, and respect is the ultimate foundation of trust among work colleagues.
9. Be social – but keep your distance
Trust happens between employees and managers when the correct level of social interaction is consistently maintained. Nobody likes a boss who’s constantly hanging around and trying to ingratiate themselves with the workforce, but nobody likes a manager who won’t be available when employees just want to talk either. Striking the right balance between friendliness and authority is crucial to building trust. Don’t try to be their best friend, but don’t try to be a stranger.
10. Be inclusive
Some employees might not immediately want to share ideas or thoughts with you, in meetings or in one-to-one situations. It’s a good idea to identify those employees and tactfully deal with that situation. When an employee doesn’t want to talk, you showing interest and being available makes them trust you. Don’t call their problem out in front of the whole team. Take them aside one day and ask if there’s anything you could be doing to help them.