Trust is the backbone of any healthy organization. Without trust in self, colleagues, and leadership, organizations are unable to reap the rewards of effective working relationships and collaborations. This is especially true within healthcare organizations, where a lack of trust can result in lower quality patient care.
Building trust in relationships throughout organizations begins with leadership setting the example by communicating with honesty, honoring commitments, owning up to mistakes, and behaving in a consistent and transparent manner.
1. Follow Through on Your Promises and Commitments
A strong foundation for creating a trusting culture begins with leaders following through on promises and commitments. It may be cliche, but “actions speak louder than words” rings true, especially in interpersonal workplace relationships. When you consistently claim one thing and do another, employees have no reason to believe you’ll follow through on your commitments. Consistent behavior sets a precedent, building trust among employees that you are there to help them solve problems, adapt to new responsibilities, and perform their roles effectively.
"When I started at the VA, each one of my 300 leaders in the field across the country heard only one drumbeat from me: ‘I will always have your back.’ That was always important for me to communicate to them in both my words and actions,” says Poonam Alaigh, TLD Group Advisory Board Member and previous Acting Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “I was determined to walk this walk and instill a culture of trust and unconditional support, where people aren’t afraid to take chances or go outside of bounds if it meant doing what was best for the veterans and for our mission."
2. Admit Your Mistakes
Building trust within an organization begins with leadership admitting mistakes. Contrary to popular belief, owning up to your mistakes builds trust among employees rather than breaking it down. 81% of employees find it important that their employers admit mistakes, yet only 41% report that their employer regularly takes responsibility. Taking responsibility demonstrates that you consider yourself just as much a part of the team as everyone else. Investing in leadership development can help your organization’s leaders learn to better take responsibility for and solve their own mistakes.
3. Develop Emotional Intelligence Skills
Building trust isn’t just following through on your promises, it also requires empathetically listening to and communicating with your employees. To communicate with employees in a productive, open manner, leaders need high levels of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence encompasses our ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions along with recognizing, understanding, and influencing the emotions of others.
Strong emotional intelligence makes employees feel much more comfortable approaching you with questions and concerns. “To develop trust, lead first with empathy – be willing to open up and disclose first in order to have others feel comfortable opening themselves to you,” says Tracy Duberman, President and C.E.O. of TLD Group. Having the emotional intelligence to react calmly when presented with employees’ mistakes and concerns not only builds trust amongst employees but empowers you to lead with wisdom rather than gut instinct.
4. Leave the Gossip for Television
Shocking workplace gossip may make for great television, but in reality, a “Grey’s Anatomy” style workplace only impedes your organization’s ability to work strongly as a team. Leave the gossip for the TV screen. When you spread information that isn’t yours to share, you lose a certain level of professionalism that cannot be regained and permanently alter your employees’ perception of you as a leader.
When you aim for building trust among employees, participating in gossip signals to team members that you prioritize scandal over employee well-being. Employees will feel less comfortable approaching you with personal concerns that impede day-to-day work life.
5. Show Your Appreciation
When building trust, showing your team you appreciate their work, even small wins go a long way. “For collaboration to be successful, first you must show people that you care about them,” notes Poonam Alaigh, “When people come from different perspectives or vantage points, they are often siloed and come to the table with certain notions and patterns of thinking. If you’re able to demonstrate that you care about them and the way they approach the issue, then walls start to break down, trust builds, and you can have an honest and transparent dialog.”
Small details—like an Employee of the Month awards or consistently congratulating employees on quality work—can make a big difference in the long term. When employees feel valued as members of the team, their trust in the entire organization and you as a leader grows. When employees feel confident in their abilities, they trust those around them to perform well too, making your entire organization run smoother.
Building trust in your organization helps to create better outcomes. Leadership should set the example for the entire team through consistent behavior, honesty, and continual follow-through on promises and commitments.
Looking to build trust within your team? Get in touch with us, and our expert leadership development consultants can help strengthen your team’s trust in one another.