Building trust is a vital part of any working relationship. When there's a power difference, though, it can be hard to build any kind of real trust. After all, those in positions of power tend to be able to exercise authority in a way that can be detrimental to their subordinates and that can have a huge impact on their livelihoods. If you want to be successful, though, you must start by enacting these three principles in order to build trust.
Transparency is vital to trust. One of the major reasons that employees tend to be distrustful of management is because management is privy to information that most employees don't have. They see management doing things that might not make sense and ultimately profiting in ways that they cannot simply because the average employee does not know what's coming next. This kind of issue can torpedo any trust that exists in a workplace.
You don't have to tell your employees everything. You should, however, be honest when you're not able to tell them what's going on. If you can be honest and open about most of what happens in your place of work, employees will be more trusting when they hear that you aren't able to share something with them. Sharing everything may not always feel ideal, but building this kind of trust will help employees to feel more secure in the workplace around them.
If you want to make sure that your employees trust you, you must start by trusting them. A culture of trust absolutely must be a two-way street and it's far easier to get a group of subordinates to trust you if they know that the trust extends to them as well. If you're willing to treat employees like adults and to let them do their jobs, they'll be more comfortable letting you do yours.
For the most part, this means avoiding micromanagement. Let your employees know that you trust them to do their own jobs and that you'll only interfere when it's vital. When an employee comes to you with an idea, let him or her take that risk with your full support. It might not always succeed, but it will help to build up a culture that prizes trust. If you can trust an employee with a radical idea, they'll be more willing to trust you when you make your own changes.
Take the Blame
It's been said that great managers give credit but take blame. If you want your employees to trust you, you'll need to show them that you are quick to own up to your own faults. It doesn't matter if you are the CEO of a multi-billion dollar business or you're the lead installer of the custom pools Montgomery has grown to love, your employees can't follow someone who always shifts the blame to someone else. If you can take a moment to take the blame for your own actions, your employees will know that they can trust that you're being honest with them.
Taking the blame also means understanding that you are ultimately responsible for how your team performs. While it's absolutely necessary to let your employees know when they've failed, it's important to let them know that any of their own failures reflect failures of your leadership as well. When your employees know that you are on their side and are willing to rise and fall with them, they'll put more trust in you.
Building trust often means being more trustworthy. Be transparent in your decision making when possible, give your employees the benefit of the doubt, and always be willing to own up to your own mistakes. If you can become the kind of person who seems trustworthy to others, they'll be less afraid to rely on your and much more likely to trust you when it's truly important.
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.