What Builds Trust Inside the Organization?
And what keeps it there?
Progressive leaders care about promoting trust in the workplace because they understand that having shared insights throughout the organization will make it stronger.
Sadly, it isn’t easy to assemble that most valued of work environments: That place where employers trust their employees, and in turn, the employees trust the organization. Maybe your company was built on a foundation of trust; grown from humble beginnings with an open-door policy that facilitates listening, respect, and shared purpose.
But things can change quickly, and the fact is that even if you did start out with trust, it can be very easily swept away, permanently eroding goodwill in your workplace.
When does trust begin to erode?
- When you fail to create an environment that promotes authentic dialogue.
- When you scale rapidly without putting measures in place to maintain your culture.
- When you become reactive, instead of proactive in your leadership.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Employees who are less trusted by their manager exert less effort, are less productive and are more likely to leave the organization. Employees who do feel trusted are higher performers and exert extra effort, going above and beyond role expectations. Plus, when employees feel their supervisors trust them to get key tasks done, they have greater confidence in the workplace and perform at a higher level.”
Trust has been proven to have profound effects that support better business outcomes, but it also just feels good. It’s a powerful catalyst that lowers turnover by 50% when compared to industry competitors, increases customer satisfaction, and even boosts profitability, according to American neuro-economist Paul J. Zak. And as an employee, of course, it’s a lot easier to justify going into work everyday if you feel trusted and respected.
So, how, as a leader, do you promote trust?
- Encourage Authentic Dialogue: Provide employees with a frequent pulse feedback platform. Asking for input more frequently keeps responses timely and actionable.
- Make it Transparent: Everyone should be encouraged to share their insights, but modern business models have a long way to go before that becomes an accessible norm. We live in a world where increased transparency is everywhere, and it certainly has a place in your workplace.
- Real-Time Results for All: When employees are able to see, not only their responses, but those of their peers in a results dashboard, they understand that everyone’s had a chance to share their voice. It also encourages a natural communication pattern that allows for information sharing and collaborative dialogue around top issues.
- Listen, and Then Respond: More than anything else, your employees need to know that you’ve listened to what they have been saying. Repeat back to them what you heard, and what you plan to do about it. It’s possible the answer could be “I can’t tackle that issue now, but I’ll make it a priority in Q1,” and that is okay. Action doesn’t need to be instant.
The result of these actions is an undeniable increase in trust throughout your entire organization. In an era where every industry is being disrupted and transformed constantly, trust creates a reliable pathway to frontline insights that will drive high performance.
Great Places to Work has studied the relationship between trust and high performance for over 30 years. “Regardless of industry, company size, or leadership styles, a high-trust culture is a defining characteristic of every company that wins a coveted spot on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for® list that we have produced each year since 1998 with our publishing partner, Fortune. These are companies that consistently outperform their competitors and the rest of the market. They define what it means to be great, and these companies ensure everyone in the C-suite knows how to foster a high-trust culture—which fuels the organization’s continued success.”
You can read more about our study into trust and high performance in our two-part series, “The ROI of Trust,” Part 1 and Part 2. We’re passionate about promoting trust in the workplace, and our product supports progressive leaders as they make their workplace more human.
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