8 Secrets On How To Build Trust As A Leader

blog052914There has been so much literature in the last few years about employee engagement, and how to build a great company culture. If there is one clear reason for organizations to create an amazing culture, I’d have to say the answer is trust.

If employees trust you, and they perceive that what you’re doing is honestly in their best interest, and that you mean well, and have good intentions, then they will be engaged, and ready to perform.

Without trust, nothing else will work. It doesn’t matter if you give your employees, without trust, none of it matters. Unfortunately, there are way too many employers who either don’t get this, or realize how awful their company and brand is, and choose to hide it from employees.

A lot of people also don’t realize how similar our relationships are with coworkers as they are with our significant others. In your romantic relationships, trust is the most important thing, and is the core foundation of any healthy, long lasting relationship, and it’s the same for work. Similarly, when that trust is broken in a romantic relationship, it’s almost impossible to get it back. Same thing for work.

There are several ways that an employer can build trust among his team, but the most important thing when trying to build trust, by far, is to be real, authentic and sincere.

Seriously, don’t even try to fake it, you will get caught, because it’s blatantly obvious, and it will completely backfire on you. If you’re not ready to do it properly, don’t do it at all. Another thing that’s important to mention is that in order to get trust from your employees, you first have to give it. First, show them that you trust them and then they will much more open to trusting you.

Here’s how to build trust as a leader:

1. Be Honest

Honesty is the key to building trust. When you say something, you better mean it. This is the easiest way to ruin the trust with your employees. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, and don’t be shy to admit you’ve made a mistake. Instead of shifting the blame, and assuming none of the responsibility, own up to whatever mistake you’ve made. Your employees will respect you more because of it.

2. Show Real Compassion For Your Employees

Sometimes employers talk the talk, but don’t really walk the walk. If they care about their employees, then they’ll offer them things like a flexible schedule, opportunities for personal growth, and make sure their employees have a strong work-life balance. When you show compassion for them, they’ll end up showing compassion for you.

3. Show True Passion For Your Work

If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, how can you expect to motivate an entire team? When you show your passion to the other employees, they’ll be able to tell, and you should be communicating that passion to them. Try explaining to your employees why you’re so passionate, and how they could potentially become as passionate as you.

4. Share Your Knowledge

Being knowledgeable about your industry or product instills trust in your team, because it shows them that you actually know what you’re talking about. Once they know that you know what you’re talking about, they’ll be more comfortable turning to you for questions and decisions. If you’re not that knowledgeable about your industry or product, become knowledgeable very quick. This is important for any leader.

5. Say Thank You And I’m Sorry

There are so many managers that don’t take any blame or don’t accept any responsibility when something goes wrong, looking to shift the blame to someone else. This is such a terrible thing to do, because deep inside, the employer knows they were wrong. Effective and great leaders understand the power in owning up to their mistakes, and saying sorry when they screwed up.

Similarly, when something goes well, a smart leader will thank everyone else on the team except himself. Remember to say thank you to your team, something that simple can really go a long way. When employees know that you’ll thank them and credit them for their work, they’ll be more motivated to do things properly, and that will establish a relationship of trust.

6. Get To Know Employees Personally

Getting to know your employees on a more human, and personal level is a great way to build trust, by becoming closer with them. Make sure to take some time to have face-to-face meetings, and make sure to go around and personally ask employees how they’re doing. That personal touch is critically important to building trust and engaging associates.

7. Be Really Open & Transparent

I think one of the most powerful ways to build trust is by simply being open and transparent in all of your communications. Employees know right away when their boss is being honest, and if you communicate frequently, you’ll earn their trust and respect. This is particularly important during the tough times. When the business isn’t doing as well, you need to communicate openly with your employees and explain to them what’s going on.

8. Share The Long Term Vision

This one is really related to being open and transparent, but it’s important enough to separate. Not only is transparency important for building trust within a team, but communicating the vision and long term strategy is important for employees to have passion. Make sure that everyone is aligned, and address any questions or concerns from your employees. Explain to them how their work will help reach that vision, thereby showing trust in them for however they end up getting there.

Building trust is the real secret to employee engagement. Once trust is built, everything else will fall into place.

We would love to hear from you with questions or comments. Tweet us @abetterleader.

Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.