Building Trust With Your Team

It’s no accident that Merriam-Webster’s 2014 word of the year was “culture.” Everywhere you look, companies are discussing the importance of culture and how to improve your company’s culture. But oftentimes, there is a disconnect between what the c-suite thinks a company’s culture is and what the rest of the company sees as the company culture. A truly strong company culture has to start at the top and work all the way through the company. And it has to be built on a foundation of trust. But how do you establish that trust within your organization?

At UNEX, we have found that building and retaining trust is built on six pillars: communication, team-oriented goals, making the right decision, openness, consistency and continuous learning.

1. Communication.
Communication is the cornerstone of every strong culture. But to build trust within an organization, there needs to be strong communication of corporate values and vision. Everybody has to be on the same page about what the company’s goals are and where the company is headed. If everybody is on the same page, everybody can be empowered to make decisions because everybody ultimately knows where the bus is heading. In business jargon, it’s important to have everybody in the right seat on the bus. But for long-term success and trust, it’s even more important that everybody on the bus knows what station the bus is going to.

2. Team Goals.
Many “teams” are nothing more than a collection of individuals looking out for themselves. But the best teams are all working toward a similar goal. It’s important to establish team goals and to ensure that everybody can depend one another to do their part to reach that goal. When there is trust within a team, the team’s triumph is everybody’s triumph. It’s important to not only establish individual goals but also team goals because then you can evaluate the team and let them grow.

3. Making the Right Decision
For me, this is the common sense one. It could also be read as “do the right thing.” It’s doing what you say you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it. If a mistake happens, rather than trying to assign blame, it’s more important to fix the problem as quickly as possible so that the customer can get what they need quickly.

4. Be Open.
Like number 3, openness about mistakes is so important. This is directly tied into the company culture. Mistakes happen. It’s how a company deals with mistakes that determine how costly those mistakes will be. Are your employees afraid to make mistakes? That won’t stop the mistakes from happening but it will ensure that when they do, the employee will try to hide them. And hiding the mistake, rather than making it go away, often exacerbates the problems. Give your employees the freedom to make mistakes and encourage them to, when the mistakes inevitably happen, own up to their mistakes and set about fixing them.

5. Be Consistent
Consistency in a manager is often the make or break quality that inspires trust. Are you the type of manager who is perceived to play favorites? If so, the employees who “aren’t the favorites” will never trust you or feel that they are playing on an even playing field. Managers have to be impartial. If a manager is impartial and consistent with every employee, the team will be more trusting because they know that everyone is on the same page and getting a fair shake.

6. Continuous Education
Finally, continuous education. JFK once said that “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” If we have an environment where everybody is continuously growing and learning, that’s what is really going to build trust for everybody. That’s what we’re shooting for.

To have a strong culture requires trust and trust, as the saying goes, is earned not given. Everyday we do our best to earn our trust. From our customers, from our employees and from our suppliers.