Today's workplaces are becoming increasingly centered on collaboration and teamwork, rather than competition.
Today's workplaces are becoming increasingly centered on collaboration and teamwork, rather than competition. In step with that, relationships have never been more critical to fostering a strong, motivated workforce. This doesn't mean that managers have to be intimately involved in their employees lives or that workers need to be best friends with one another – but it does bring to the fore an important element that can determine whether talented employees will become loyal, invested team members. That factor is trust.
Building trust: A solid foundation
Workers are expected to give their all to their employers – their ideas, their time, their energy. In return, they receive compensation and, ideally, recognition for their achievements. However, whenever anyone makes an investment, whether financial or with intangible assets like time, they want to have confidence that it's worth their while. In the workplace, this confidence is created when managers build trust with their employees and when workers know they can depend on their company to be transparent, consistent and true to its promises.
Despite its obvious benefits, trust can be difficult to nurture in the business landscape. According to the Harvard Business Review, only 30 to 69 percent of respondents polled for a book on the workplace indicated that their colleagues trusted management. Often, trust falls apart when supervisors take it for granted, focus more on profits and metrics than employees or don't follow through on their commitments.
There are a number of small steps managers can take to bolster trust within their companies:
- Build rapport with employees. Forbes Magazine suggested that basic listening skills can go a long way in helping workers feel like their supervisors are on their side. Additionally, leaders should make an effort to empower their team members, building them up for success so they stay focused on opportunities. Recognizing and rewarding accomplishments are effective strategies to demonstrate that managers are paying attention to their workers' talents and appreciate their contributions, the source added.
- Establish transparency and fairness. Employees often want to know that their jobs are stable, so leaders should prioritize transparency throughout the organization's operations wherever possible. Furthermore, compensation and added benefits should be clear and open. That's where sales incentive programs and similar engagement technology can present an equitable, transparent reward system so workers don't feel like their accomplishments are being disregarded while others are receiving praise.
- Maintain privacy and security for employee data. Human resources and other departments within enterprises collect personal information about employees, from medical statuses to familial arrangements. Employee reward programs and other data banks should adhere to industry standards for protecting private data and keeping those resources safe from unauthorized viewers.
- Create credibility and consistency. In addition to taking action by following engagement initiatives such as employee surveys, managers should make sure that their policies are consistent and enforced. This includes reward plans – offering incentives for workers to meet goals have no value if the reward never materializes. With reward program technology that automates much of the process, supervisors can ensure they never come up short on their promises in that area.
- Keep an eye on trends and metrics. In addition to listening for worker feedback and paying attention to their attitudes, managers can draw insights from performance reports so they can proactively address issues before they become problems. For example, if productivity starts to decline with the introduction of a new project, leaders can help team members develop solutions without letting a backlog form. These efforts demonstrate that managers are invested in their team's success, which will earn their trust and confidence as well.