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Six Important Ways to Build Trust with Employees

The age old question about whether or not a leader would prefer to be loved or feared is a good one, but perhaps it is time to add another option – what about being trusted? Truly effective managers recognize that being trusted is far more powerful a tool when it comes to persuading workers. “Employees are more likely to follow through on goals set by a manager they trust and to be more forthcoming about the challenges they see on their level,” the Harvard Business Review notes.

Earning the trust of your employees could be the difference between success and failure for your company.

High-trust companies outperform low-trust companies by more than 280 percent when it comes to total shareholder return on investment, according to Inc.

So, how do today’s business leaders earn the trust of their employees without undermining their own authority? Below are six key steps for managers to take to enhance their trust factor with their teams and people.

  1. Self-Awareness. As a leader today, you much recognize the possibility of needing to change your management style to fully engage with an evolving employee cohort. That requires a significant degree of self-awareness. Open yourself up to the possibility of needing refine the way you manage your employees. This is a courageous step and you should give yourself a pat on the shoulder because it is a difficult exercise.
  1. Making that Connection. Perhaps the most impactful and smoothest ways to facilitate a trusting relationship is to make a personal connection. This allows employees to see leaders are part of the group and understand on a human level the team’s issues. As a person’s power increases his trustworthiness amongst former peers decreases because the manager seems to be less reliant on others.
  1. Transparency. This is huge in today’s workplace environment that values honesty, integrity and truthfulness above all else. This will inherently avoid the rumor mill from spreading, which breeds trust-busting negativity and paranoia.
  1. Delegate; Don’t Demand. One of the most impactful ways to earn an employee’s trust is to show you trust her. That means delating tasks and providing employees with the space to be in charge of that part of a project. You will still manage the overall project and keep it on course, but allow employees navigate specific aspects of the journey. “When employees feel empowered to succeed and believe that the goals of the company are aligned with their own, they’ll work harder and smarter.”
  1. Abandon Favoritism. This is a pretty simple concept. Treat everyone fairly and do not play favorites. Make sure everyone is held to the same standards and accountabilities, including yourself.
  1. Be Humane. Earning peoples’ trust is generally not an easy task. According to research, a person typically will not trust another individual until the latter exhibits 16 specific behaviors. With that in mind, the odds are as a leader you will drop the ball on some of those behaviors every now and then. At the same time, so will employees. Therefore, be sure to create a culture that accepts everyone makes mistakes and can inadvertently break the bonds of trust now and then. It happens. “Broken trust is a natural outcome of people working together in fast-paced, high-pressure environments.”

To be sure, earning employee trust does not come easily for all leaders today. “Trust is a very high-level order to get people to follow you,” but leveraging these steps in the ways you engage with your employees will help build that all-important bond.