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Trust in organizational leaders is at an alarming low, and it’s having a concerning impact on performance. Discover five ways you can reverse this trend.

In the wake of the Great Resignation and evolving work dynamics, employees have heightened expectations from their leaders. Trust, often perceived as a minor aspect at work, is crucial for enhancing productivity, retaining talent and fostering a team that yields successful outcomes.

Currently, trust in leadership is alarmingly low, with only 21 percent of employees in the United States strongly trusting their organization’s leaders. Therefore, building a culture of trust is imperative for business success. Here are five key strategies.

Define Clear Outcomes

Leaders must articulate clear, measurable objectives to ensure employees understand what constitutes success in their roles. This involves not merely assigning tasks but setting employees up for success by clearly outlining expectations. Such clarity demonstrates a commitment to their professional growth and achievement.

Well-defined outcomes provide employees with a road map to navigate their responsibilities. It gives them tangible targets to work toward rather than leaving them guessing about what their leaders expect from them. Especially for newer hires or employees taking on new projects, having explicitly defined outcomes aids them to efficiently direct their efforts. It also facilitates effective monitoring and measurement of progress.

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Well-defined outcomes provide employees with a road map to navigate their responsibilities.

Additionally, leaders should involve team members while setting objectives. Collaborative goal-setting based on employees’ inputs and ideas increases buy-in, as workers feel invested in the process. Overall, precise outcome definition, coupled with collaborative development, boosts employees’ motivation and performance excellence.

Effective Communication

The cornerstone of trust-building is communication. Leaders need to engage in consistent, transparent and open dialogue, fostering an environment where both leaders and employees feel comfortable sharing and receiving feedback. Effective communication ensures that roles, responsibilities and expectations are well-understood, reducing uncertainties and building trust.

Communication should emphasize clarity, candor and approachability. Leaders ought to ditch corporate jargon and communicate in simple, relatable language. Honest, constructive feedback even on difficult conversations should be prioritized over avoiding sensitive topics. Furthermore, they need to be accessible through open communication channels like emails, meetings or informal check-ins to allow employees to voice concerns freely.

Communication should emphasize clarity, candor and approachability.

Consistent, bidirectional communication enables you to detect issues early before they spiral while also keeping everyone aligned to organizational objectives. It sustains information flow across varied levels, preventing the emergence of rumor mills or misaligned perceptions. Structured communication pathways, like weekly stand-ups or monthly town halls, provide employees with recurring interfaces with leadership. Overall, communication excellence is integral to transparency, resolving ambiguities and nurturing trust-based work relationships.

Foster Relationships

Building genuine relationships beyond mere professional interaction is key to trust. Leaders should invest time in getting to know their employees personally and professionally. This approach not only aids in understanding individual strengths and skills but also facilitates a deeper, trust-based connection between leaders and their teams.

Trust emanates from a sense of care and concern leaders demonstrate toward employees as individuals with unique aspirations and challenges. Leaders need to step beyond task-based interactions to forge interpersonal connections centered around employees’ career goals, skill-building needs and even personal pursuits or family life.

They should have a nuanced understanding of team members’ competencies and leverage it in assigning work. Accommodating personal demands like family health issues or celebrating personal milestones creates an emotional affinity. Leaders should also open channels for casual social conversations, which build rapport beyond official work. This humanizes them while signaling reliability as dependable mentors. Progressively, consistent care cultivates a perception of leadership being on their side, thereby establishing durable trust.

Encourage Autonomy

Moving away from traditional management styles, modern workplaces are embracing autonomy. Allowing employees to make independent decisions can be transformative, leading to higher engagement, improved performance and a culture of innovation. Autonomy signals trust in employees’ capabilities and judgment, which in turn strengthens their trust in leadership.

Without constant monitoring or micro-management, true autonomy empowers employees to determine the optimal ways to achieve their goals. It conveys that leadership believes in their capacity and discretion to make prudent choices aligned to organization’s needs. Employees feel valued as responsible self-starters who are able to balance accountability with flexibility.

Furthermore, autonomy allows people to learn from their mistakes. By removing a blame culture where people point out the mistakes of others, it allows people to reflect on personal shortcomings and grow. Knowing that they will not be penalized or publicly berated for errors motivates employees to think creatively, speak up without fear of failure and unlock their highest potential. They perceive autonomy as an enabling force for professional growth rather than restrictive control. Overall, autonomy accelerates innovation while boosting engagement and trust.

Mentorship and Coaching

Providing employees with targeted performance goals and the autonomy to achieve them paves the way for impactful mentorship and coaching. Continuous learning and development are crucial, and mentorship provides personalized guidance, accountability and feedback. Effective mentoring at all professional levels enhances skill development; encourages constructive criticism and goal setting; and enriches both individual careers and the organization.

Mentorship helps employees navigate everyday challenges by providing sage counsel that is rooted in extensive experience. Through consistent mentor interactions, employees feel supported in pursuing individual development areas, be it public speaking, executive presence, stakeholder management or diagnosing complex problems. Mentors invest in mentees’ long-term progression rather than merely evaluating immediate performance.

Mentorship helps employees navigate everyday challenges by providing sage counsel that is rooted in extensive experience.

Both this growth mindset and future-oriented perspective help employees believe that leadership wants them to continuously evolve into well-rounded domain experts and leaders. It boosts their confidence to experiment with innovative approaches without anxiety. Additionally, access to seasoned mentors’ wisdom builds trust that assistance will be available during adversity. Thereby, mentorship cements confidence in leadership support driving greater risk appetite, new capability building and loyalty.

Rebuilding trust requires leaders to be clear, communicative, relationship-focused, autonomy-supportive and dedicated to ongoing mentorship and coaching. These strategies are essential for navigating the post-pandemic work landscape and ensuring organizational resilience and success.

Trust forms the bedrock of cohesive, thriving work cultures where empowered teams work collaboratively to advance organizational prosperity. By investing sincerely in trust-building, leaders will reap rich dividends including agile productivity, seamless collaboration, optimized innovation, enriched employer brand and steadfast loyalty even during turbulent times.

Ultimately, leadership built on trust demonstrates purposeful stewardship inspiring people to bring their best selves in achieving shared visions.

Drew Yancey

Contributor Collective Member

Drew Yancey is Founder at Teleios Strategy and President at InCite Performance Group, two leading strategy advisory firms. He is deeply passionate about helping companies achieve what they did not think was possible. He leverages his extensive track record in high-performance team building and strategic execution to solve challenging problems at the nexus of growth, strategy and innovation. Drew has over a decade of strategy consulting and executive leadership experience across multiple industries. He is the author of two books and a frequent keynote speaker. Learn more at https://www.teleiostrategy.com/

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