Are you setting yourself up for success by building trust with your employees?
If you were searching for some spiritual guidance, you might consult writings by Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama. Need some financial advice? Warren Buffett has been known to impart some useful tips. Have questions about entrepreneurship and business? Jeff Bezos could offer a sound strategy.
So, why would you solicit and follow advice from these individuals? It’s a matter of trust.
And who knows more about trust and leadership than Jack Welch? The former General Electric CEO and current executive chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute, an online MBA program at Strayer University, has 40 years experience in earning and keeping trust. In a recent article, he imparted some words of wisdom to guide employers in achieving a level of trust that benefits both the company and the individual.
For starters, Welch recommends leaders be “generous with praise, with recognition and with their cash.” Everyone can use an occasional pat on the back as well as a little monetary bonus. Also, make sure to listen and include everyone in the company when making decisions. He says, “They’ll want to work with you and will be more likely to respect you and honor your decisions as a leader.”
Transparency – letting your employees know about upcoming goals and changes – will keep staff informed and “more willing to get on board,” Welch notes. He adds that providing feedback on a regular basis helps employees feel valued.
David Grossman, communications expert and CEO of the Grossman Group, offers additional tips for building trust with employees. His first, and most important, lesson is to recognize that building trust is not an overnight project. He says, “It comes from conscious effort to walk your talk, keep your promises and align your behavior with your values.”
Grossman advocates for honesty, support, and sensitivity in all communications with employees, who look to company leaders as a guide. Modeling the behavior you expect from your employees offers them motivation and serve as an example, he notes.
In the process of building trust, everyone, even leaders, makes mistakes from time to time. By admitting yours, you set the tone for accountability company-wide, according to Grossman. He says, “…employees see you as credible and will follow your lead.”
While the above suggestions have been proven effective, leaders might want to keep in mind some behaviors not to engage in if they expect to win the trust of their employees. David Bowman, TTG Consultants CEO, cites inconsistency in speech and actions as a sure way to confuse employees. He adds that a self-serving leader who focuses on personal gain, rather than working as part of the team, will quickly sap respect and trust from employees.
Bowman also emphasizes that being untruthful and hiding information can lead to decaying trust. “When the communication channels shut down – both top-down and bottom-up – rumors start and misinformation is believed to be real,” he writes, noting that close-minded leaders who refuse to entertain ideas put forth by others will create an environment of eroding trust.
As Stephen Covey says, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”