There is an x-factor contained within the most productive companies all over the world. Developed and leveraged correctly it has the potential to create unparalleled success. That factor is trust.
In the bestselling book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey explains that trust is directly related to cost and speed. As trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down. As trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up.
That’s why it’s in the best interest of every CEO, executive and manager to understand how do develop trust within their organization and it all starts with a solid foundation. Here are 7 ways to create a strong foundation upon which trust is built.
#1 Effective Management
TinyPulse, a leader in employee-engagement pulse surveys, recently put out a report that shines the light on what drives employees to exit. After analyzing data from over 25,000 employees across the world from January to October 2018, the number one reason: Poor management performance.
How employees feel about their direct supervisors matters. Employees who rate their supervisor’s performance poorly are four times as likely to be job hunting. Additionally, the study revealed that “40 percent of employees who do not rate their supervisor’s performance highly have interviewed for a new job in the last three months, compared to just 10 percent for those who do rate their supervisor highly.”
If you have a leadership role in the organization then you have a responsibility to guide your team and support them in their roles and let them shine. No two employees are alike. Their background, experience, skillset and knowledge differ meaning each employee will require a different level of attention, training and management.
#2 Personal Development
According to Blessing White’s 2013 Employee Engagement Report, the top two drivers of satisfaction were career development and training. Most employees don’t just want a job; they want to work somewhere that they can see themselves having a career. They want managers to help them grow, if not, eventually they will leave.
Attrition is often a sign of weakening trust within the organization.
Holding stay interviews is a good way to determine why employees stay with your organization. Pay attention to and enhance the factors they identify that keep them coming back every day. Another way to strengthen relationships and improve skills is by offering an office book club. Best-selling business and personal development books that are under 300 pages usually work the best. Experience has taught me that starting such a club is relatively easy, however maintaining one is a different story entirely. Want to increase attendance? Make it a social event – offer food and drinks.
#3 Empathic Listening
In order to help build trust between management and employees, the management must first understand the underlying issues. Only once they understand the person’s situation, can then work on solutions to resolve the problems.
It’s essentially the ability to be able to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand that person’s emotions or feelings. Done correctly, the listener lets the speaker know, “I understand your problem, how you feel about it and I am interested in being a resource to help you resolve it.”
Guidelines for empathic listening are as follows:
- Be attentive and be interested in what the listener is saying. Create a positive atmosphere through nonverbal behavior.
- Act like a mirror – reflect back what you think the speaker is saying and feeling.
- Don’t ask too many questions.
- Never discount the speaker’s feelings.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Don’t give advice.
- Do reflect back to the speaker what you understand and how you think the speaker feels.
Many companies have rewards and incentives in place for their employees based on reaching targeted goals. Unfortunately, Psych 101 tells us that you get the behaviors you reward. What are we rewarding? Are we looking at monthly goals reached, quarterly goals reached? What about the managers recognizing employees that are doing great things for the customers every day? It’s important to catch our people doing something right and let them know about it right away when it happens. Don’t wait until days or weeks later when they receive their review or when it’s time for formal coaching. Employees are very much like children; they like to hear they are doing a good job as often as possible. Not only does it reinforce good behavior but it also increases their levels of confidence in their work.
James Feldstein, President of Audio Den, put it this way, “Good employees will leave a company if they don’t receive recognition for their contribution, and feel unappreciated. No one wants to continue to work hard and bring value to a company if their efforts are ignored. A thank you from management goes a long way. Recognizing employees for their contributions doesn’t have to include monetary incentives. It can be as simple as a private conversation or email message.”
Vagueness is an absolute killer. In business, it seems as if you’re being less than truthful with your clients, customers and employees. People need to understand exactly what they have to do, how to do it, and how they can improve. Employees who are worried tend to leave. It’s important to make every change and potential change transparent.
Kenneth Blanchard, the best-selling author of The One Minute Manager, says “When people don’t know what’s going on, it’s human nature for them to imagine a version that’s ten times worse than the trust!”
Let them know how the business is doing at all times and what the organization’s plans are for staying on track or recovering in the future. If negative incidents occur, communicate. There is no such thing as overcommunication when you are attempting to ease employees’ concerns.
#6 Admit Mistakes
Most children hide mistakes because they know that mistakes often come with punishment. Bad grades? You’re grounded. Didn’t finish your homework? No Playstation. For most of us, this is something that we are all too familiar with. In the business world, it’s not much different. The only difference is the punishment can be much worse; verbal abuse, a dock in pay or worse, or being fired are just a few things that can happen from mistakes in business. As such, we have inadvertently taught people to lie to us. They lie to cover up their mistakes and hope they can get away with it.
The mature approach is to admit your mistakes when you make them. If caught early, most mistakes will be negligible. But it’s not just employees that make mistakes but also management. Management must set the tone for an honest working environment. A good expression to remember here is “come clean.”
Back in 1982, Johnson & Johnson faced an unprecedented issue when a number of people died after taking Tylenol. Tests were quickly carried out which soon revealed cyanide present in the bottles. Despite a total of only eight bottles ever found to have been contaminated, in order to reassure the public, Johnson & Johnson distributed warnings to hospitals and distributors and issued a nationwide recall of all Tylenol products; an estimated 31 million bottles in circulation at the time with a retail value of over US $100 million. The quick action of the executive team at Johnson & Johnson restored trust with the public and today Tylenol is the number three consumed drug in America.
Mistakes happen, we all know that. It’s what is done about them that matters.
#7 Perks, benefits, bonuses
There are any number of ways to show appreciation. Small perks can go a long way in sending the right message. A nice coffee machine can transform how people interact, reduce people’s stress, improve focus and how they view the company. Be aware though, once introduced, taking away small perks can send the wrong message.
Consider this story. Many years ago, I worked for a relatively small, but growing company. Within a few months, we moved into a new office and each of us was given a desk. I was told to choose a chair for my desk out of thirty available. Luckily, I happened to get a very comfortable one that looked almost brand new. I enjoyed sitting at my desk every day. A few months later, I came to the office to see my chair had been replaced by the worst chair in the office. It looked like it was dying. The back wasn’t straight and the caster was broken. It squeaked every time I moved. I found out later it had been taken away by a higher-up executive in a different department. What kind of message does that send? While it wasn’t a factor in my quitting the following year, I still remember it today. It’s been over 20 years.
Here are some possible ideas to show your employees that you care.
- Coffee machine
- Starbucks gift vouchers
- Salary increases
- Time off (Some people value time over money. Parents want to be able to witness their kid’s big events.)
- Restaurant gift vouchers
- Overnight stays at nice hotels
- Donuts (food is very much appreciated)
- iTunes/Google cards
- Small handwritten thank you notes
- Spa vouchers (a hit with female employees)
- Ziplining adventure
- Tickets (movie theaters, amusement parks, concerts, aquarium, zoo)
- BBQ events
- Day at the beach (volleyball often goes down well)
- Unique gifts – local artists paintings, commemorative items
- Journals/pens (personalized are even better)
- Punching dummy (stress relief)
People like to be rewarded for doing a good job. Studies have shown the four things employees like most are (1) getting money (2) gift card incentives (3) time off and (4) written recognition. Thank-you notes go a long way. Kudos like that could be part of a big corporate plan for recognition but still involves the supervisor or manager taking the time to personally recognize the employee by leaving a little treat or surprise at their desk.