Every day is a lesson in building trust. My earliest memory of trust came when I was seven years old. I was riding my bicycle barefooted around the neighborhood when my toe got caught in the spokes. I remember lying on the ground, bloody and crying, then my dad came to scoop me up and take me home. He sat me down on the sink counter and consoled me as he fixed my toe.
BUILDING TRUST WITH EMPLOYEES REQUIRES 2 ACTIONS FROM LEADERS:
1 – COMMUNICATE WITH TRUTH
Truth is the ability to share your perspective.
Truth is a tricky word. We often assume our truth is a fact, and we become defensive when others don’t agree. Yet, truth is usually a matter of perspective. Our perspective changes all the time due to our life experiences, core values, people we surround ourselves with, and the information we choose to absorb daily.
“Raise your hand if there is someone on your team you should have a conversation with, but you’ve been putting it off?” A sea of hands goes up in the audience. This is the response I receive all the time when I am speaking across the country. When you dig deeper and ask managers why they’ve put off having these conversations, you hear the same responses:
- “I don’t want to deal with the drama.”
- “I avoid conflict.”
- “I’m not sure how to approach the conversation.”
- “I’m hoping it will go away.”
All relationships suffer when people hold back and stop telling their truth about what is going on.
All people can handle the truth. What they cannot handle are silence and secrecy. Great leaders love people enough to tell them the truth, and they also create space for others to share their truth.
Below are six actions to building trust with truth:
- Love people enough to tell them the truth
- Be consistent
- Support your truth with stories, data, statistics
- Take accountability
- Demonstrate a track record of results
- Build your knowledge
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2 – COMMUNICATE WITH TRANSPARENCY
Transparency is your ability to explain the why behind your actions.
Remember as a kid when you would ask your parents to go somewhere and they said, “No.” Your next line was always, “Why not?” And then came the classic line that every parent has said more than they are willing to admit, “Because I said so!”
This line might work for parents who can lead out of authority and control. However, it will only serve to erode trust between leaders and employees. Employees need and deserve to understand the why behind decisions, requests, and company direction.
Brene Brown said, “When people don’t have all the information, they fill it in with fear.” Fear causes people to create stories based on zero facts, spread gossip, and waste a lot of energy trying to understand what is going on. Company culture and productivity always suffer as a result.
Below are six actions to building trust with transparency:
- Explain the why behind your decisions
- Share your intentions, feelings, and motivations
- Refuse to keep secrets
- Admit mistakes quickly
- Embrace vulnerability
- Make yourself available