What makes for a great employee? Every business wants people of high integrity who are driven, talented, dedicated, and creatively resourceful. But how can you attract and retain these employees? It has to start with a work environment built on trust.
Businesses in which employees trust each other and their management is much more likely to have high revenue than businesses where trust is low. Let’s take a look at this well-done infographic to see how businesses can create cultures of trust and give employees reasons to give you their best work every day.
10 proven ways to build trust with employees
- Show them the big picture
- Set clear expectations
- Listen actively
- Delegate low-risk projects
- Plan weekly catch-up meetings
- Be honest
- Commit to your word
- Recognize good work
- Share something of yourself
- Let employees work on “pet projects”
1. Show them the big picture
Employees should understand who you are, why you do what you do, and how they’re going to help you do it. Make new-employee orientation an opportunity to highlight company goals, operational approaches or other ways of getting work done, and your expectations for the new employee’s role.
2. Set clear expectations
Don’t stop setting expectations after orientation. Every project you assign should be accompanied with a discussion of what you expect to get done, when you need it, and how your employees might accomplish those tasks. This process should also provide your employees with an opportunity to let you know what they expect from the project — and whether it’s achievable within the constraints you’ve set in the first place.
3. Listen actively
Ask open-ended questions when you’re discussing projects with your employees. Allow them to fill in the blanks with their own understanding and experience, and use their answers to help them fill in any gaps in their understanding in a positive way.
4. Delegate low-risk projects
Give employees the opportunity to grow into their roles by allowing them to complete low-risk projects with minimal oversight. If they do a good job, you can give them weightier work. Trust in your employee to get things done without micromanagement will be rewarded with their greater trust in you, creating a self-reinforcing “cycle of trust.”
5. Plan weekly catch-up meetings
No one likes a pointless meeting, but regular meetings can provide valuable insight when run efficiently. Use your meeting time to give and solicit feedback on employee progress, focusing on wins, challenges, and upcoming plans. Allow employees to talk without feeling judged or attacked, and they’ll be more willing to share things that could help your team do better.
6. Be honest
You shouldn’t bother with the other elements on this list if you can’t be honest. If your employees don’t believe you’re telling the truth, they’ll never trust you. And no one can lie forever. Don’t risk it. Be honest, but be honest without attacking anyone. It’s a fine line to walk, but great managers do it every day.
7. Commit to your word
Don’t promise to do things you don’t believe you can accomplish. If you fall short, acknowledge your failure and work towards fixing it with your team’s full understanding.
8. Recognize good work
If an employee does something great, give kudos as soon as you can. Highlight specific things they did to make their work stand out. You can acknowledge good work one-on-one or in team or company-wide meetings. Some employees may be more introverted, while others crave the spotlight. Giving praise through your employee’s preferred channels can amplify its impact.
9. Share something of yourself
No one is an island, even at the office. You don’t have to be best friends with your employees, but they should know something about you as a person in addition to what they know about you as a professional. Social connections build trust, and trust gives everyone the motivation to do better work.
10. Let employees work on “pet projects”
Google is famous for its 20% time rule — employees are allowed to spend 20% of their workweeks on personal or pet projects. The results speak for themselves. Gmail and Google Maps both began as 20% time projects, as did several other multibillion-dollar businesses. You might not get the next Gmail out of an employee’s pet project efforts, but you still might wind up with an unexpected boost to your bottom line.
This article was originally written on February 29, 2020 and updated on December 10, 2021.
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