A strong culture of trust is one of the most enviable qualities that any business can have, whether small or large. There are major benefits, ranging from increased productivity, to reduced conflict, to excellent levels of staff retention. However, it’s often easier said than done; trust doesn’t always come naturally to people or organisations, so it can be helpful to think about the things that will help it become a natural part of your business. In this article, we’re going to go through the best way of instilling a commitment to trust in your organisation and employees.
Often, building trust is a top-down process. There are potentially many different types of relationships within a business, but creating a great culture at each level is likely to have a cascading effect on those below. Employees naturally look upwards for inspiration and guidance, so this is generally the best way of encouraging the right culture. Each level within the business has to be inspiring to the one below, and must also give others the trust that it wants back.
Naturally, that means that trust has to start with the very senior leadership and management team. Things can sometimes be fraught when it comes to the very top. You’ll often have a small handful of very strong characters who have their own opinions on the way the business should work, and goals for where it should end up. This is natural, and not always a bad thing. However, it’s incredibly important that these people can trust each other to do what’s right for the business and get on with their role. Trust doesn’t mean having to blindly go along with what other leaders want, but it does mean listening, having good communication, and being willing to accept that other people know what they’re doing. If all senior managers trust one another, then they can allow their own individual skills and knowledge to shine.
Beyond the very senior management and leaders, you may have other managers throughout the business. This is a very important layer of the organisational structure. Senior managers and leaders have to give their trust to these people to actually go out and execute their job role. Leaders are often thinkers rather than doers, so they have to rely on others to get the job done. There are two things to think about – leaders need to trust their managers, but they also need to demonstrate that they do. Middle managers that feel trusted are far more effective in their role. They’re able to use their skills with confidence, and they feel valued, which is likely to encourage them to remain loyal. Showing that you trust the managers below you isn’t always easy, but it’s something that will come with time and as you work together.
We then move down to other employees, perhaps known as line-workers in some organisations, but generally anyone who isn’t responsible for other members of staff. In any business, small or large, most of the workforce will constitute these important individuals.
To conclude, building a culture of trust throughout a business is not an easy task, and it’s not something that can be planned in a meeting or that you can have a policy designed for. It’s something that can only be driven from the top by creating role models and a natural culture. Fortunately, trust is something that spreads fairly easily; once one person feels trusted, they’re much more likely to trust their co-workers. It doesn’t take long for new employees to get on board. If you’re looking for more resources on this subject, then consider taking the Virtual College course, Leadership and Management Styles