There is a key link that is missing in many modern companies. It leaves gaps and voids between people and inhibits their willingness to work as a team. As a result, levels of employee retention and productivity are taking a nosedive across industry sectors. I guess the problem is that cultivating trust takes much time and commitment. Yet, the benefits that kick in are too great to be missed. Trust on all levels tends to boost productivity and enhance the ability of companies to retain talent.

Leading the way

Great business strategies and plans come in handy, but employees are the driving force behind growth and success. They can also be the cause of a fizzle, which is to say that there are many factors that shape and influence their performance for better or worse. Among them all, we have to single out trust as the focal point of all good work environments.

As we have indicated, trust has to be earned fair and square. It is not something that can be forged or manufactured using tricks and deceit. Likewise, trust is not fostered by ruling with an iron fist. Yes, enforcing strict discipline can bring some immediate avail, but in the long-term, such a style impedes trust. In the light of fear and resentment, only negative emotions can take hold.

Leadership and management play a pivotal role here. Their style and approach have a profound impact on the level of satisfaction, motivation, and engagement. Moreover, they are primary agents that inspire or tarnish trust. It is clear that true leaders set a good example themselves and go to great lengths to create an atmosphere of openness and honesty.

One of the key soft skills that managers and executives have to possess is empathy. It refers to the ability and willingness to put yourself in other people’s position and see the world through their eyes. An informed decision on any issue regarding your employees should be reached after taking into account multiple angles.

From theory to practice

How to pull it off in practice? Well, for starters, a company’s values, plans, and goals must be communicated clearly and to everyone onboard. People are not mere cogs that operate blindly following orders. So, withholding information or lying to your employees is out of the question. It is better to swallow the hard truth than to garner a nice lie. All in all, transparency lays the groundwork for trust to start developing.

Along these lines, managers and CEOs should be accessible and open to employee feedback. Those who are the closest to the work process often have valuable insights. Even if their suggestions are not overly useful, they will still value the chance to speak their mind. It goes without saying they should feel free to do so and have appropriate channels for that.

Furthermore, everyone should feel like a part of something bigger, not like an isolated individual chained to the office desk. So, recognize individual contributions and reward top performers. You can also delegate more important tasks to them and involve them in the decision making process. Do not alienate those who are not pulling their weight and present them with a clear choice: step up or ship out.

An extra mile

There are various perks and benefits that can stimulate trust. Most notably, provide career growth guidelines, promotion opportunities, and training programs. These are top engagement drivers apart from recognition, ones that let the company as a whole as well as each individual within it grow and evolve hand in hand. To do that, you have to develop a deeper understanding of the work processes and patterns, as well as your employees’ wants and needs.

A nice “thank you” in front of the collective is a step in the right direction, but it is a good idea to follow it up with something more tangible, incentives such as a raise or short paid vacation. Strive to look beyond just handing out plain money. There are other smaller tokens of appreciation and gratitude such as Visa gift cards, fitness memberships, free Mondays, lunches, flexible work arrangements, etc.

Finally, try to connect with your employees on a more meaningful level. This can take place on the premises, in chill-out areas, bars, and other informal spaces. Of course, it pays off to dedicate some time towards bonding outside the workplace as well. Have a causal hang-out, throw a party, go to a nice dinner, or to the cinema. The opportunities to relax and connect abound, so explore all the avenues.

Supporting pillars of trust

Sowing the seeds of trust is an opportunity to reinvigorate the business organization and rally workers around a worthy cause. Start by putting yourself in their shoes. Keep your promises and maintain a sense of openness and transparency. Set clear expectations and a good example by acting as a positive role model. Go above and beyond the call of duty before asking anyone else to do so. Give trust before asking for it. Alleviate pressure and anxiety that plague most workplaces. Ensure that everyone is on the same page and directed towards the set goals.

Emma is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. After getting a marketing degree she started working with Australian startups on business and marketing development. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. Interested in marketing, startups and latest business trends.