Trust is integral to a company's workplace culture. Without it, building good working relationships can be quite difficult. Here are eight ways to build trust with your coworkers.
1. Implement Systems of Accountability
Accountability is a vital skill in the workplace. Leaders should lead by example by taking responsibility for their actions and making it clear that their employees should follow their lead. Create a system of accountability where mistakes are acknowledged and owned up to, but not unjustly or harshly punished. You can integrate technology into a system of accountability, too. Technology can enable your company to keep records and track data to ensure employees are doing their jobs. It can also provide employees with the ability to log incident reports and better manage their workflows. For example, you can begin using GPS fleet tracking systems in order to make sure people driving company vehicles are using those vehicles responsibly. These systems can contribute to a system of accountability by tracking driving speed to ensure drivers are abiding by speed limits, make sure employees are making it to their destinations all right and monitor other aspects of driver behavior and work on ways to improve driving behavior.
2. Focus on Transparency
Transparency is a key aspect of earning trust. It's easy to be transparent when things are going well, but you must also be transparent about issues and problems you face. This doesn't mean you need to tell everyone everything. It just means you need to communicate clearly with your team and coworkers regarding such things as performance metrics and project progress. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but being upfront with coworkers or customers when you experience a problem or a delay and knowing what information should or should not be disclosed will provide you with a reputation for integrity and truthfulness.
3. Provide Encouragement
Being a team leader means striking a delicate between encouraging your team and giving orders. Telling people what to do may work in the short-term and may even be necessary when you're working on a short deadline. However, encouragement and motivation offer more long-term success in building good relationships with your team. Practice delegating tasks to various team members. Seek to understand which team members enjoy or are skilled at which tasks and ask them to take on relevant responsibilities. This will both show that you have faith in them and make it more likely that work will be done well and punctually than if you simply told someone to do something.
4. Utilize Constructive Criticism
No one enjoys having his or her work criticized, but constructive criticism is an important method of developing skills and mindsets. Whether you're a team member or a team leader, you will likely be called upon to provide feedback or constructive criticism for your coworkers or even for your company as a whole. It's essential that criticism not be negative. If an employee does something wrong, the behavior does need to be assessed and corrected, but it should be done in such a way that the employee is able to learn and grow rather than just reprimanding him or her. Likewise, feedback can be used to encourage employees to continue learning and improving their skills.
5. Practice Active Listening
Active listening is essential for building trust. Most people want to feel like their voices are being heard in regards to their concerns, opinions, critiques and ideas. Providing your team with a platform to voice feedback and input can make your team stronger and more cohesive. It can also make your employees feel like their contributions matter and are appreciated. If you're a team leader, you should make sure employees have platforms and chances to speak up. Encourage quieter employees to send written feedback if they feel uncomfortable speaking. Build time into meetings for others to speak or present ideas and encourage discussion instead of just talking to your team. If you're a team member, work on encouraging your teammates to give voice to their ideas. Ask others for constructive criticism and feedback for your own ideas. Active listening fosters collaborative environments.
6. Create Support Systems
Support systems are a necessity for trusting environments. These systems are not only meant to support the physical needs of your employees with programs such as benefits packages but also social and psychological support both in the workplace and outside of it. Team leaders should integrate themselves into a support network for their teams. A leader should represent his or her team when speaking to his or her superiors. A team leader should also be a source of support when an employee makes a mistake, experiences a problem in the workplace or needs some flexibility at work to deal with something in his or her personal life.
A solid foundation of trust can help a team build good teamwork and communication systems, which in turn will help that team's company flourish. Everyone on the team should be involved in building trust so that everyone on the team is willing to work together and feels comfortable doing so.