Trust in the workplace sometimes feels like it takes years to gain and seconds to lose. Changing workplace culture to facilitate trust is never an easy process, but it can be done, and it is certainly worth investing time and energy into.
As we’ve outlined in previous posts, distrust is toxic in the workplace. It leads to high turnover rates, a lack of motivation, and overall weaker performance throughout the business. High levels of trust, alternatively, facilitate an environment of openness, creativity, and boldness. Trust empowers people to do their best work, build company loyalty, and help everyone around them succeed.
So how can you foster trust in the workplace? Judith Glaser has written extensively on this topic. She has developed a TRUST Model that helps people improve their Conversational Intelligence. While these lessons should be implemented at the individual level, they are applicable to a trusting workplace culture. If these principles are incorporated into organizational policy, they will help foster a more supportive and trusting workplace.
The first step in Glaser’s model is openness and honesty. By being upfront about our intentions, we prevent others from misinterpreting us and also garner their respect. Being transparent in conversations helps others feel that they can be open, as well.
Glaser insists that we must seek to build relationships with the people we work with, even people we see as foes. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone in your office, but treat them like real people. Ask how their days are going, compliment their recent accolades, or inquire about their kids. Simple gestures can go a long way toward building comradery.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the people you interact with. Be open to hearing perspectives that are different from your own. This will help you be more empathetic and open-minded.
- Shared Success
Don’t expect everyone who works with you to have the same idea of success as you do. Many workplace conflicts arise when two employees have differing views of what is right for the company or for their own careers. Be open to hearing other points of view, and try to make your position clear without pushing an agenda or forcing others to see things your way, when possible. By clearly stating a common goal, you can help bring people together.
- Testing Assumptions / Telling the Truth
When you have a pre-conceived notion of someone, be honest with yourself about it. It might even help to be honest with them about it. Engage in frank discussions about what you think is holding back your workplace relationships, and see what opening those lines of communication does. You may find that the longstanding fued you’ve had with that other department head was all over a simple misunderstanding. You may also learn how your actions are perceived by the people around you and finally be able to set the record straight.