Building and maintaining trust in a workplace between colleagues and employees is vital to creating a healthy and efficient workspace. From communication to accountability, trusting relationships are the foundation of a company’s success and growth. Here are several tips from female founders, CEOs, and executives on how to employ trust.
It Starts with the Employer
In order to be viewed as a trustworthy and encouraging leader, there are a few characteristics that an employer should have to build open and honest relationships with their employees. Things such as showing your team that you value them, listening to their ideas and needs, and offering while also accepting critiques are just a few ways to get the trust ball rolling.
“It’s important for leaders to build trust by making sure that all employees feel heard and valued. This means listening carefully to what other people have to say, encouraging and praising employees when they do a good job, and taking time to care for yourself so you’re able to show empathy and compassion toward others. Leaders should also make sure that their employees are given fair opportunities for advancement. Trust is built one person at a time, so it’s crucial for every leader in an organization to take the time to get to know each person on the team as an individual.” – Julianna Stone, co-founder of Cicinia.fr
“Leaders who listen to their employees and take their suggestions seriously show that they value their input and want to work together for the good of the company. This approach also helps build a sense of teamwork, which can make everyone feel more invested in the business’s success. Another way to build trust is simply by being communicative. Leaders who keep their employees in the loop on important decisions and updates show that they respect them enough to keep them informed.” – Adina David, HR Manager and Career Coach at JobzHut
“Every job comes with reviews and critiques but making sure that process is a two-way street will better build trust amongst your team. Making your feedback constructive, including praise in your review, and asking your employees what they would like to see in support from you, is critical in letting your team members know that you recognize you are not infallible and want to grow with them. By making your performance reviews a two-way process, you will demonstrate that everyone can get better, and effectively build trust amongst your team to create a more productive work environment.” – Adelle Archer, Co-founder and CEO of Eterneva
Treat Employees Respectfully
How a leader treats their employees is reflective of how they operate company systems. Female professionals say that seeing and treating your employees as your equals and capable of doing their job is the first step to creating a relationship full of trust.
“Give them autonomy. Add extra responsibilities to their plate. Invite them to join meetings they wouldn’t normally attend. Ask for their contributions and really listen to what they have to say. Most managers think you need to first build trust, and only then increase responsibilities. But the truth is when you raise the bar of what’s expected, most employees will rise to meet it (the reverse is also true—when you lower expectations, a team will likely fall to that level).” – Ruth Evan Haim, co-founder and COO at ReConvert LTD
“One way to create a professional relationship full of trust is by being honest about everything from day one: including yourself in mistakes as well as successes; admitting when you don’t know something instead of pretending like you do; taking responsibility for anything negative that happens because of your decisions.” – Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP (Strategy and Growth) at Resume Worded
“One important step in building trust is to model the behavior you expect. Begin with treating your employees as professionals who deserve your trust. Be open and transparent with employees about your expectations. Set boundaries and maintain them. Trust must go both ways, so being open and honest demonstrates the culture you expect for your entire organization.” – Kirin Sinha, Founder and CEO of Illumix
Communication is Key
When a leader maintains open and effective communication with their employees, trust builds and work gets done. Conversing with employees can be tricky because of the difference in rank, but eliminating hierarchical tendencies when speaking to employees is essential to paving the way for a mutually respectful relationship.
“We are quickly evolving into a more balanced approach of leaders listening to their employee base. This has been a chronically absent component in the workplace, despite rhetoric saying otherwise. It is imperative that organizations evolve to increase employee voice and preference and first ask employees what their working style is, how they like to be managed, and what type of work style they not only need, but desire. Listening to employee input and preference will allow for more efficiency as their working styles will be prioritized.” – Molly Marquard, Founder of Negotiate This
“It’s important to be respectful and open-minded. Avoid speaking over people or interrupting them, and be willing to listen to their suggestions and feedback. By approaching conversations in this way, leaders can create an environment where everyone feels comfortable communicating and collaborating.” – Hanah Alexander, Editor in Chief of TodayTesting.com
“Be open and honest to your employees about how changes in the organization will impact them. Talk to them rather than talking at them. Encourage an open-door policy for your subordinates. This will not make employees feel reluctant whenever they want to raise their concerns.” – Aima Irfan, Editor in Chief at InsideTechWorld
The Effectiveness of Team Building
An incredibly effective way to strengthen professional relationships is through team building exercises, in both remote and in-person settings. Bringing together a team of leaders and employees to participate in something unrelated to work breaks down walls, allowing for trust and friendships to prosper.
“Yes, there are effective team-building exercises that can help build trust between coworkers. Some examples include trust falls, problem-solving activities, and communication workshops. These exercises help employees learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and allow them to work together collaboratively. Trust-building exercises are an important part of team building and can help create a positive and productive work environment.” – Isabella Diaz, Founder and Site Manager of Rubakhali
“Companies can implement team-building opportunities/days even when cyber. One exercise that can help build trust between cyber-based coworkers is to have employees pair up and share something personal about themselves that the other person may not know that is within their comfort to share. This exercise helps to break down barriers and allows employees to get to know each other on a more personal level.” – Samantha Hawrylack, Co-founder and CEO of SJ Digital Solutions
“Of course, the exercise itself is only part of the equation; it is also important to debrief afterwards and discuss what went well and what could be improved. One of my favorite exercises is called the Tower of Hanoi. In this exercise, team members must work together to move a stack of disks from one peg to another, with the restriction that no disk may be placed on top of a smaller disk. This exercise requires communication, cooperation, and planning, and it can help team members to learn to trust each other’s judgment.” Hanah Alexander, Editor in Chief of TodayTesting.com
Oftentimes untrustworthy relationships slip through the cracks and call for mediation. There are several reasons for conflict between colleagues, but it is important as a leader to be able to identify the indications of a declining or depreciated relationship in order to employ the proper procedure to mend the situation.
“If there is a lack of communication, inconsistency, or dishonesty in a professional relationship, it may be indicative of an untrustworthy relationship. In order to fix the issue, it’s important to address the problem directly with the other person. If possible, try to come up with a solution together that will improve the trust in the relationship. If the issue is not resolved, it may be necessary to involve someone else, such as a mediator or HR representative.” – Jennifer Spinelli, Founder and CEO of Watson Buys
“Some indications of an untrustworthy professional relationship are when someone will come and, unduly, moan to you about others. They’re the kind of person who gossip, and, generally, don’t promote a positive working environment.” – Lucy Hurst, Co-founder and Managing Director of Sherbet Donkey Media
Employee conflicts will be ever present, but that’s not to say leaders don’t employ certain characteristics that indicate their declining professional relationships.
“Micromanagement and misrepresentation. The biggest red flag is a leader that micromanages and nitpicks every detail. It indicates that there are definitely some trust issues and that full autonomy has not been given to the employee to do what they were hired to do. Misrepresentation could be an issue when an employee is given a task that they are not skilled to do regardless of their experience and then reprimanded when they make a mistake. This type of misrepresentation can cause team members to not trust their leaders and stifles their growth by making them not want to take on new responsibilities.” – Samantha D. Liberal, Certified Friendship Coach
Acknowledgment, Accountability, and Empathy
There are a plethora of aspects to a trust-filled professional relationship, including everything already mentioned. Here are three more key aspects of a healthy and honest relationship according to a few female executives in the business world.
“Acknowledge outstanding employee performance and create tailored incentive programs tied to stellar customer outcomes. When goals are met, and the organization can tie customer successes to business outcomes, that’s when reward systems can truly change not just behaviors but operational systems.” – Camille Nicita, Managing Director of North America & Partner of Gongos
“Do what you say you will – you’re going to want to make sure folks truly know you’re who you say you are. No smoke and mirrors, no dog and pony, no fancy stuff. Show that you’re good for what you say you’re good for.” – Rikki Goldenberg, executive leadership and career coach
“Empathy in the workplace is important because it is part of the human connection. Without empathy, our leaders become separate from employees which can create a barrier and a fear of asking for help when needed. Leaders must build a safe workplace culture where everyone feels safe speaking openly about difficult things. Great managers make their teams feel more secure and empowered to voice their ideas and opinions.” – Kim LaMontagne, corporate trainer and author
Trust comes in many forms, but at the end of the day its presence uplifts a company and plays a key role in its success. Building and maintaining trust is critical for a company to prosper the way it is intended to, and that trust begins with the leaders and stretches until it hits all the employees vital to the operation.