Trust is important at many levels of an organisation. For employees to take risks, work harder and respond quicker to customer needs, they need to feel that the company and its managers do what they say they will do and keep up to date with everything going on. 

With trust at all levels, a company is likely to move faster, be more responsive, and exhibit higher levels of productivity. 

A lot of research from Great Place to Work — the firm that provides the data behind Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For – indicates that enterprises with a trust culture will have greater financial success than those that don’t. 

When there is a lack of trust, it is often because of owners and managers not being transparent about what is being worked on, how the company is doing, and why changes are being made. 

However, nothing breaks trust faster than when an owner or manager fails to do what they say they are going to do. 

Culture of trust

Over-promising and under-delivering is one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make with their team. If you find yourself not following through on what you said you would do because you are too busy, change your approach to one of under-promising and over-delivering. 

Keeping your word is critical to having integrity. As an owner or manager, if you lose this you will not be able to build a culture of trust and to be seen as a leader. 

Owners and managers whose actions and words are aligned earn the respect of their staff. Actions speak louder than words, and your business must have leaders who do the right thing. 

If your staff do not think you or your manager lead by example, your values and integrity and those of your business will be challenged. When a leader loses their integrity, they lose the trust of their team and their ability to lead. 

Sharing goals

An organisation’s transparency around its goals, strategies, plans and results greatly determine employees' engagement and the amount of trust they feel towards you and the business. Goals indicate the results the company wishes to achieve. 

It is amusing when a company leader talks about being goal-oriented but has not shared their goals with their team. 

Simply put, an enterprise will not achieve its goals until everyone understands what is expected of them.

Consider the process in your firm for letting employees know your current goals and, more specifically, how their work affects those goals. 

Organisations will develop strategies to achieve their goals and managers will create action plans indicating how they and their team will specifically contribute to those strategies. 

In both cases, staff need to know both the broad and specific plans being implemented to achieve the goals.

Updating staff

This is critical to how an employee feels about the company because strategies and plans usually mean change, and when there is transparency, change can be less daunting. 

You need to keep your staff updated with how the organisation is doing against its goals. Results matter, and whether good or bad, every worker should feel connected to and invested in the company’s results.

Keep your people up to date with all key metrics so they understand when a change of plan may be required, or why celebrations occur. 

By creating a culture where results are sought out each month, everyone is interested and involved in making them better. 

Effective communication

Businesses must not only communicate goals, strategies and plans effectively, they also need to ensure all employees understand what they mean. 

Effective communication requires understanding, so organisations and managers must realise that if staff do not know what any of the shared information means, transparency and trust are never achieved. 

Enterprises must also have a process that allows employees to share their ideas, feedback and insights. Workers should be able to communicate their thoughts and ideas in any of three ways: anonymously, as part of a group or team, or individually with a manager. 

Avoiding distrust

Providing feedback anonymously enables employees to share their thoughts honestly, safely and equitably – so they feel they are on the same level as everyone else. They are more likely to share concerns or negative aspects of their employee experience without fear of repercussions from management or the organisation. 

While there are benefits, giving feedback anonymously cannot be the only way to provide it, as this can reinforce a climate of distrust, particularly with small enterprises. 

Opportunities to speak within a group or team setting are also necessary. We recommend having monthly engagement meetings where everyone is kept up to date with essential information, results, and plans. 

During these gatherings, people can also contribute ideas on how to improve scores or the way they work. These ideas can then be captured and considered more closely, possibly even adding them to a plan. 

Regular check-ins

The final (and possibly most important) medium for feedback is the one-on-one conversation. Managers need to set up regular and consistent check-in or performance conversations with their team members.

These discussions allow the manager to engage with an employee and show they care what that staff member thinks, and also create an opportunity for the business leader to receive feedback. 

Managers must be responsible for fostering relationships where all employees feel comfortable bringing things to their attention, as this will generate the highest feeling of trust and care at work. 

Just remember, if you are asking for feedback and ideas, there must be follow-up with your staff on what you did with those, even if they were not acted on. 

Developing a trusting environment is critical to your organisation’s success. By understanding how to increase the feeling of trust, owners and managers will enhance the employee experience and improve company performance.