How to Foster Trust in the Workplace
Trust is important in a workplace because it’s so often necessary to rely on one another to get a job done. Distrust of supervisors, employees, or co-workers can seriously damage morale and consequently, productivity in the workplace. Going to work every day doesn’t have to feel like stepping into a snake pit! There are ways to infuse your working relationships with trust.
- It’s like your mom and sixth grade teacher always said; honesty is the best policy. Whether you’re the employer or the employee, nobody trusts someone who lies, even if the lies seem small and beneficial in the long-term. If you’re the employer, make sure you’re transparent about your motivations for implementing certain policies. Your employees want to be in the loop, as well as understand why they’re doing the work. If you’re an employee, be open and honest with your boss and coworkers, even when you’ve made a mistake. (Especially when you’ve made a mistake!) And seriously, quit stealing the paperclips. They’re 2 dollars at Staples!
- Trust is a give and receive kind of equation. You can’t expect your employer or employees to trust you if you don’t somehow show that you trust them. This means lay off the micromanagement, and trust your co-workers, partners, or employees to do what you asked of them. Similarly, if you’re locking up the office supplies, it communicates that you expect them to be stolen, and, lo and behold, they’ll be stolen! Sure, you might lose a few staplers once you set up the honor system, but in the end, whether it’s the office supply closet or doing a good job on a shared project, most people don’t want to disappoint someone who trusts them.
- Remember that consistency is key. As an employee, you signed up to fulfill certain tasks. Are you fulfilling them every single day? If so, then your employer knows you can be relied upon, and will probably think of you in the future when considering someone for greater responsibilities. If you’re not performing the basics of your job—this includes showing up on time!—you’re showing your employer that you can’t be relied upon. And reliance is trust. As an employer, do exactly what you say you’re going to do, and your employees will recognize that they can trust your promises, as well as your vision for the company.
- Watch your body language! Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly communicating nonverbally. Look people in the eye to avoid being described as “shifty-eyed.” Stand with your arms uncrossed to signal that you’re open for communication, and keep your hands open and in sight.
- Finally, it is of the utmost importance to always remain open to communication in all of its forms. Whether it’s an idea for a new project, a way to improve the workspace, or a piece of constructive criticism, people trust us not only when we’re honest, but when we allow them to be honest with us.
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