NOTED author and management guru Tom Peters once said: "The hyper fast-moving, wired up, reengineered, quality-obsessed organisation will succeed or fail on the strength of the trust that its managers place in the folks working on the front line."
I've always liked that quote. I'm sure that we would all agree that trust is at the heart of all human relationships, and it stems from the personal integrity that we, as leaders, bring each day to our work relationships with associates.
If trust is such an essential ingredient for all successful relationships, then how do we as leaders build and sustain it in our work culture with those we are privileged to lead?
Here are five time-tested "best practices" that you can use to create trust in your organisation:
1. Share information freely
It is always a good idea to share information with associates without filtering.
It makes the statement that, as leaders, we value our associates and trusts them to use the information in the best interests of the organisation.
Of course, there will be times when information is confidential and sensitive and, therefore, cannot be shared.
However, in my experience, these instances are the exception and not the rule. Be open and honest in your communications with your team. Then see how they respond.
2. Seek input
Don't be afraid to ask your team for advice and input. Often times they are the experts and will be very open with sharing their views when asked.
The trick is that leaders must be ready to ask. This sends a clear message to associates that we value their input.
Also, remember that when we ask for input, we must be ready to either implement ideas or offer a clear explanation as to why an idea or suggestion cannot be used.
This brings us to an important word of caution here: If we ask for input and then ignore it, then we are sending the wrong signal to our team. Take the initiative to ask and then act on the input. Then observe the positive changes in your culture.
3. Don't play favourites
This seems pretty trivial and even obvious to seasoned leaders. However, it is surprising how often we overlook this step. We often want to have a set of rules for our "A" players and another for the balance of the team.
However, leaders must always keep in mind that the policies and rules apply to all. Avoid the temptation to play favourites with policies.
Although talents will vary among team members and not everyone's contributions are the same, the policies must apply to all. That goes for performance standards and expectations as well.
4. Take responsibility
We must be willing to own up when we err as leaders. When we do so, we send a clear message to our associates that we are willing to take responsibility for our actions, just as we hold others accountable for theirs. This also makes us more human and approachable in the eyes of those we lead.
5. Respect confidences
When our associates share information of a personal nature with us, we have an obligation to treat that information as confidential and not to be openly shared without the permission of the associate.
Again, as is the case with playing favourites, this may seem obvious.
However, one misstep in handling these situations can create a very undesirable effect... the associate never again trusts us.
Take special care with confidences shared, and you will create a trusting associate.
I am confident that, as leaders, if we focus on practising these basic steps, we will go a long way toward building an atmosphere or culture based on trust in our organisations.