Trust is an important part of any healthy relationship, be it personal or professional. An environment based on trust implies that all the parties involved are safe, and they have each other’s best interests in their mind. In a professional setting, this is fruitful because it supports growth. For instance, employees are likely to accept harsh criticism or anger from a boss whom they trust because they are confident that he or she means well for them. This helps them focus on the feedback and work on bettering themselves, something that may be much needed.
Building and maintaining trust may seem tricky, and at times, it may definitely be so. If trust is lost once, it is difficult to rebuild it. Several professional relationships have ended because the parties involved lost their trust in each other. It is, therefore, essential that all parties should feel a sense of trust so that optimal working relationships can be maintained.
Trusting others and coming across as trustworthy in the eyes of others are crucial for both professional leaders and employees. Developing trust between individuals in the workplace can be challenging because not all of them may have similar backgrounds and histories with each other. This lack of common grounds means that there is no base of trust which can be built upon. For this reason, managers need to apply a proactive approach and develop an environment of trust which is supportive for everyone. Now, the question is, how can that be done? Here are some of the best ways to cultivate trust in the workplace:
Be a proactive listener
The wisest of people have always emphasized the importance of listening effectively and listening more than speaking. When it comes to listening, it shouldn’t be for the sole purpose of generating a quick response. Most managers have a habit of evaluating a person’s speech according to their own perspective so that they can approve or disapprove of what they are saying. This is known as listening autobiographically and is poisonous for the employee’s initiative, self-confidence, and open communication.
However, effective listening is when you listen to learn, which means that you won’t judge the other person while he is speaking, and will not interfere with your opinions. This enables you to value people’s ideas and feelings, which is key to effective communication and trust-building.
Managers can beat the tendency of listening autobiographically by cultivating the habit of listening to learn. To begin, they can take the position of being a good listener by getting prepared to hear whatever is going to be said, instead of just listening to a few words and rushing to respond.
Another bad habit to work on is listening in anticipation of what your employee is going to say because this encourages interruptions. A manager who interrupts during an employee’s attempt to communicate triggers a negative emotion. People like being acknowledged and don’t like feeling that you already know what they are going to say. When you interrupt, it gives off the message that you don’t care about the opinions of others as much as you care about your own. It is, therefore, essential that you listen well so that your employee feel that you are acknowledging their opinions, ideas, and feelings. This is a great way to enhance communication and develop trust.
Whenever you feel the urge to interrupt, remember that you will be more effective if you listen first. No great insight will ever enter your mind through your open mouth. It is crucial that you give off the vibe that you are willing to listen, even if the conversation leads to disagreement. Start to dialogue with a simple, “Let’s talk about it.” Keep in mind the productive sales principle: inquiry before advocacy, which means that you should always listen before you speak.
Additionally, keep your promises, speak the truth, allow dialogue to happen, and be honest with your team. These habits will contribute significantly to how much they will be trusting you.
Don’t lecture too much
Managers often feel that they should lecture their employees to guide them or help them make good decisions. While they surely need to share useful knowledge and tips, too much lecturing can give off the message that they don’t trust their employees’ decision-making skills. In this situation, employees tend to act defensively, and they also lose faith in their own decision-making capabilities. If workers don’t have faith in themselves, their manager’s faith in them decreases even more. Then lecturing starts again, and this vicious cycle continues.
Even the most well-meaning lectures have a subtle negative undertone that communicates that what the employee has done is not good enough or entirely wrong. This tends to cause resistance and defensiveness in people. Everyone wants to prove themselves in the workplace and are sensitive about being told what to do. Telling takes away the satisfaction that workers can derive from using initiative. This can affect their level of trust in their managers.
So, what’s the solution? Instead of lecturing employees, managers can make them feel like they have a more active role in improving things by using reflective questions. These can include questions like, “Would you consider…?” “What do you think about…?” and “Have you considered doing…?”
Work smarter, not just harder
You may feel that if you want to get something done right, you will have to do it. This is the mindset that the majority of the people have, but it’s not how effective managers think. They know that to build trust in the workplace, delegating tasks is essential.
Holding onto tasks and avoiding delegating deprives employees of the opportunity to develop their skills. Remember, growth comes only from struggle. If you baby your employees, this will not only hinder their professional development but also imply that you don’t trust their skills.
One tip for doing this is to treat people like they are empowered and responsible because this encourages them to become so. Also, focus on progress instead of perfection when employees complete their tasks. Even if the person failed to meet your expectations, find something positive to talk about. Along with that, you may help the person comprehend the initial expectations and how he or she could have met them. This is far more productive than negative comments that foster a sense of failure or guilt. A positive way of dealing with things works as a prompt for the task at hand while criticizing acts as a disincentive.
In short, avoid labeling your employees and positively communicate their weaknesses. For instance, instead of saying, “You are bad at managing time,” you may rather say, “You need to work on improving your time management skills.”
Trust is vital for developing teamwork and communication in the workplace. The more trust there is, the higher the morale and motivation of the team will be. This will reduce disengagement and turnover. When employees trust their management and vice versa, the environment curated is energized with creativity, innovation, productivity, and ultimately higher gains for all. So, make sure that you demonstrate that you trust others, create mutually beneficial relationships, and be patient and flexible so that you can curate the trust that is needed.
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