Many CEOs know that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, primarily because they aren’t sure where to start. To make trust a mainstay of their organization, leaders need to reinforce it into their company culture.
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Behaviors That Build Employee Trust In CEOs
David Friedman, lists 10 critical behaviors that build employee trust in CEOs:
When people don’t do what they’ve promised, others lose confidence in them. Leaders should coach people throughout an organization to do what they say they’ll do when they say they’ll do it. This includes big commitments as well as simply being on time for meetings or calls. A companywide pattern of dependability elevates trust.
Listen To Understand
We build trust in those who take the time to carefully listen to what we have to say. When employees feel “heard,” they develop a stronger sense of belonging to their organization and more comfortable voicing their views. This behavior includes giving others undivided attention, suspending judgment, and not jumping to conclusions.
Assume Positive Intent
People could avoid so much workplace conflict if they worked from the assumption that others were good, fair, and honest. It’s hard to have confidence in someone who assumes the worst about us or outright accuses us of wrongdoing. When staff members give others the benefit of the doubt, they demonstrate that they trust them. People who feel trusted almost always live up to that trust.
Embrace Diverse Perspectives
Organizational trust develops when everyone feels confident that they have a seat at the table. It won’t happen if inclusion and respect aren’t equitable across the board. Individuals feel valued, and the team is strengthened, when everyone’s perspective is welcomed and celebrated.
Staff members who trust their coworkers and management feel comfortable speaking up. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. In a high-trust workplace, people are willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise tough issues to help move things forward. When problems arise, they speak directly with those involved and don’t talk behind people’s backs. Trust is essential for people to have the confidence to speak straight.
Invest In Relationships
You can’t trust someone you don’t really know. Organizations built on trust have a strong network of relationships. For this behavior to take root, employees should be coached to connect more personally—even if they work remotely. People’s confidence in their coworkers grows the more they get to know and understand one another.
Act With Integrity
When people unwaveringly do the right thing, they win the trust and respect of others. Acting with integrity means always telling the truth, not cutting corners, standing up for others, and being ethical. Perhaps more than any other behavior, leaders must embody integrity for it to become non-negotiable throughout the organization.
Show Meaningful Appreciation
Acknowledgement is most effective when it is timely, specific, and includes an explanation of its impact. According to Paul Zak, neuroscience shows that this kind of recognition also has the largest effect on trust. People feel they can depend on organizations where meaningful appreciation is extended regularly in all directions.
Few things erode trust faster than when people believe information is being withheld from them. If leaders are open about company goals, strategies, and tactics, they eliminate uncertainty among their staff. In this kind of atmosphere, workers are more prone to entrust what they know with their teammates. Transparency bolsters everyone’s confidence in the workplace, enabling more successful collaboration.
Practice Blameless Problem-Solving
Mistakes will happen in any business. The way they’re handled signals to staff whether they can feel emotionally safe in that environment. The core of this behavior is a relentless solution-focus that targets the “why,” not the “who,” when errors occur. As a result, staff will feel supported in a blame-free atmosphere and inspired to be more innovative problem-solvers.
About David Friedman
David Friedman is author of Culture by Design: How to Build a High-Performing Culture Even in the New Remote Work Environment. He also is founder/CEO of CultureWise®, a turnkey operating system for small to midsize businesses to create and sustain a high-performing culture. He is the former president of RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm that was named one of the best places to work in the Philadelphia region seven times. Friedman has taught more than 6,000 CEOs about work culture and led more than 500 workshops on the subject. With Sean Sweeney, Friedman formed High Performing Culture, LLC, based on the culture methodology Friedman created at RSI.