6 ways that leaders build trust in the workplace

1. Recognize that building trust takes hard work

Trust must be earned. It comes from conscious effort to walk your talk, keep your promises and align your behavior with your values. Building trust is worth the effort because once trust is lost, it can be very difficult to recover.

2. Be honest and supportive

Even when it’s difficult, tell the truth and not just what you think people want to hear. Understand what employees need to know and communicate facts while being considerate of their effort and sensitive to their feelings. Showing support and understanding for your team members, even when mistakes are made. It goes a long way in building trust as a leader. 

3. Be quiet sometimes

Actively listen and check for understanding by paraphrasing what you’ve heard. Use a variety of feedback tools to ensure everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard. You must engage in dialogue with employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and voice concerns. Then, apply what your internal stakeholders share for future actions.

4. Be consistent

Consistently doing what you say you’ll do builds trust over time – it can’t be something you do only occasionally. Keeping commitments must be the essence of your behavior, in all relationships, day after day and year after year. 

5. Model the behavior you seek

Nothing speaks more loudly about the culture of an organization than the leader’s behavior, which influences employee action and has the potential to drive their results. If you say teamwork is important, reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions. Give credit when people do great work and you’ll set the stage for an appreciative culture. 

6. Build in accountability

When you and other leaders acknowledge your mistakes as well as successes, employees see you as credible and will follow your lead. You can encourage honest dialogue and foster accountability by building in processes that become part of the culture, such as an evaluation of every project (positives, negatives, things to change) or a status report and next steps in each meeting agenda (tracking deadlines and milestones). 

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