Building trust is key to a strong culture.
Trust is the glue that binds all relationships. A loss of that trust (or a lack of trust to begin with) fractures relationships, sometime irrevocably. One of the most important aspects of developing a strong culture within family, group of friends or an organization, is to create an open, trustworthy environment where people feel safe and protected.
In an environment of trust people often feel safe to fail. Often this means they can figure out a better way, find a more efficient process, drive down costs or increase profits. I am a big believer in the philosophy that we need to fail in life in order to truly succeed.
Back to trust, a great example of how we can build trust can be found in the thorny issue of employers requiring doctor’s notes for employee sickness. This is flu season and we know that people are going to get sick. Thousands of Canadians are flooding waiting rooms and walk-in clinics just to get a doctor’s note because their employers require one. This is madness. People with the flu should stay home, sleep and keep their germs to themselves thank you very much. We don’t want them hanging out in waiting rooms, or worse, coming into the office to contaminate the healthy folks.
If an employee trusts their employer they feel secure enough to stay home, rest, eat chicken noodle soup and get better. Correspondingly, if an employer trusts their employees, they take them at their word. They don’t request a doctor’s note. Everyone wins.
Employer-employee trust is earned, just like the trust in a relationship. Fostering a strong culture of trust takes time. Yet that bond of trust is fragile and can dissolve in a nanosecond.
When it comes to a company name or brand, trust is a currency that extends externally to customers and shareholders. Here, trust is so crucially important that it can make or break the brand. Just think of brands that have been crushed during a crisis and those that have flourished. For trust to be maintained, company leaders and employees must have each other’s backs and be able to count on each other in good times and bad.
Building trust on a team will help establish mutual respect. With mutual respect comes admiration and creativity. Business leaders need to be reliable, accountable and supportive. Leading by example, lending a helping hand and getting their hands dirty when necessary will helps build respect and admiration from employees towards leaders.
Other ways to build trust, harmony and confidence in the workplace includes telling it like it is.
- Be transparent with good news and not-so-good news. Employees will appreciate the candour and have confidence in what leaders say.
-Be an equal. Seek opinion, ask questions and respect differences.
-And of course the golden rule – which will go a long way to building a culture of trust – treat people as you would like to be treated. If we all followed that rule our world would be a better place.