Establishing two-way trust between employees and leaders can be an elusive goal, but it is essential for growing a successful and sustainable business.
Mutual trust allows managers to drive their teams to accomplish more without alienating them. Employees feel more motivated to perform at high levels when they know their leaders believe in their capabilities and trust them to succeed in their roles without a lot of oversight or critique.
While achieving this level of trust takes effort on both sides of the manager-employee relationship, there are some important things leaders need to do on their end to foster it. Here, 12 contributors to Forbes Coaches Council examine effective techniques that can help leaders build two-way trust with employees in the workplace.
1. Be Honest And Vulnerable
Vulnerability is a key ingredient in building two-way trust. If you can honestly and vulnerably “tell on yourself” to your manager or your employee, you will have a greater chance of building intimacy and authentic connection. Try going first. Can you give voice to your own fears, worries or hopes? This act of courage and connection will help lay the groundwork for trust. – Gia Storms, STORMS COACHING & CONSULTING
2. Communicate Effectively
The best way to build two-way trust is effective communication. When the flow of information is free and constructive in both directions, trust flourishes. Leaders must model the way by sharing information transparently, listening deeply to ensure that others are heard and making it safe for employees to share feedback. Say, “Thank you,” and then do something with what you heard. – Kimberly Svoboda, Aspiration Catalyst
3. Create Psychological Safety
To create trust, leaders must create psychological safety within their organization so that team members feel free to take risks and make mistakes in their daily pursuit of excellence. According to research, 55% of CEOs cited “lack of trust” as a serious threat to their organization’s growth. Only by creating intentional relationships and mutuality between workers and bosses can trust truly flourish. – G. Riley Mills, Pinnacle Performance Company
4. Be The First To Extend Trust
A great way to earn trust is to extend trust. Managers are in a great position to role-model this by demonstrating, both verbally and nonverbally, that they trust their team members. So start with yourself; employees will often follow the lead if the behavior is genuine and consistent. – Jill Hauwiller, Leadership Refinery
5. Teach It, Model It And Reward It
Managers build trust by teaching it, modeling it and rewarding it. Trust goes beyond honesty. It’s also about transparency, and sometimes vulnerability is needed too. First, teach it by stating your expectations, including how you identify trustworthy behavior. Model it by owning your mistakes, asking for help and giving credit where it is due. To reward it, point out good behavior and encourage it in others. – Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions
6. Create A Space For Truth
Create a space where truth can be communicated. What is truth? In this space, it includes both the manager’s perspective and that of the employee. Both must be shared, heard and understood by both people. It is not about who is right or who is wrong. It is about feeling secure voicing a point of view, sharing a need and working together to learn how the relationship can benefit one another. – David Yudis, Potential Selves
7. Assume Good Intention
When someone shows up late, what is your reaction? Do you ask why they were late and doubt the answer? Or do you ask them with trust and a desire to understand why they were late? When we come from a place of wanting to understand, people notice. It then becomes an opportunity to improve processes and operations instead of an obstacle. Trust is not built overnight. – Monica Kang, InnovatorsBox
8. Switch To A Leadership Mindset
By switching the mindset from management to leadership, an employer can build trust with employees and make it known that the company is mission-driven, not ego-driven. When you make it about a common goal, not management’s needs, and you celebrate whatever talents and skills employees bring to the table, trust is built. Good leaders empower others to lead within a company. – Shellie Hipsky, Inspiring Lives International and Global Sisterhood
9. Show Humility, Humor And Interest
Authentic leaders demonstrate active humility, lighthearted (and often self-deprecating) humor and intentional interest in their team members. They do it often, routinely observing and reflecting on the employee’s engagement and following up with in-the-moment feedback and encouragement This creates an environment where each can learn from the other. – Annette Villamil, Working Bridges
10. Focus On The Three Pillars Of Trust
There are three primary pillars of trust: integrity, compassion and competency. If you don’t trust someone or vice versa, one or more pillars are the origin of the cause. Remember, trust does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Identify which pillar of trust is the culprit, then leverage the existing pillars of common trust as your foundation to build upon and take your trust to the next level. – Kevin Leonard, Emerald Bay Performance
11. Ask For Employee Input And Listen
Managers can build trust with their employees by asking them for input and taking the time to listen to their thoughts and ideas. Making team members feel valued and heard creates an open and approachable environment that enables employees to feel greater trust. – Rochelle Cooper, Success Leaders
12. Be Clear About The Results You Want
Build two-way trust by being very clear about the results you want, the expectations you have and the boundaries of authority your employee has within the work they are doing. Tell them you are there to support them and that you are confident they will get the result you need in a way that matches the values of your organization. Then, be there when they need you. Otherwise, get out of the way! – Marguerite LeBlanc, The Leaders’ Kitchen Inc.