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Strategies for Building Trust and Employee Engagement

A big part of maintaining employee engagement is building their trust in the company, and in you as their leader. Building trust is an activity that has to happen on a daily basis. Doing trust falls at a company retreat is not a long-term solution. I’ve seen managers who didn’t take the time to build trust amongst their employees, and they always regret it when it’s too late to do anything about it. That’s because trust is most important in a crisis, that’s when it is truly tested.

Let’s look at a few ways to build trust with employees, and avoid being unsupported by your team when it matters most.

Keep your word and follow through.

At its core, the concept of keeping your word really means being honest. Or, at the very least, that’s the way your employees feel about it. When team members see you changing the game plan at the last minute, or constantly shifting priorities to the next shiny object, they begin to feel like you’re lying to them. You have to make informed decisions and stick to the game plan. continue reading...

As a manager, you not only have to keep your word, but you also have to make sure everyone on the team keeps their word and follows through as well. There’s nothing more annoying for a hard-working employee than the guy in the cubicle next to them that plays solitaire on the computer all day. Team members that don’t meet deadlines or do what they’ve committed to can quickly erode the trust levels within a team.

Lead with confidence, not fear.

So many managers lead with fear, and there are thousands of memes on the internet to back up how employees feel about that. Part of leading with confidence means admitting when you’re wrong. (There’s that honesty thing again!) A confident leader can say, “Maybe I made the wrong decision.” But with many managers that’s not the case, and they launch into micromanaging and not trusting their employees. This is when your team starts working against you instead of with you. If they don’t feel you trust them, how can they trust you?

Take extra time to build trust.

Trust takes time, it must be tended to. In the book Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, a prime example of how to build trust is shared. A researcher conducted a study to determine the likelihood of doctors being sued by their patients. Half of the participants in the study had been sued at least twice, and the other half had never been sued. What was the difference? Were the first half horrible doctors? The study revealed that the biggest difference between the two groups was that the doctors who had never been sued took on average 3 additional minutes with every patient. Doctors indicated that this time was used for patients to ask questions, and have discussions about how they felt about the procedure or diagnosis.

The moral of the story is: Take extra time (even if it’s just 3 minutes) to listen to your employees and tend to their trust in you. If you show them that you do value what they have to say, they will place their trust in you.

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