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If you don’t entirely trust your co-workers, it can be difficult to get excited about going to work and even more difficult to get work done. Mistrust can spill over into client or customer relationships as well, making current and potential buyers uneasy about your company’s ability to work with them successfully. Fortunately, you can take overt steps to build trust throughout your workplace.

Building trust is a group exercise, not some individual’s job. It starts in the C-suite and filters down throughout your leadership to every one of your organization’s employees. So make it everyone’s job. Here are some ways you and your people can foster a trusting and trustworthy environment:

  • Demonstrate integrity. Mom always said honesty was the best policy, and she was right. Small lies or omissions, stealing paperclips or other people’s ideas and credit all hurt. Learn about negative body language that may conflict with what you say to people.
  • Make sure every employee knows your company’s goals and near-term benchmarks and how their work contributes to those – each person is important, or they wouldn’t be there, and understanding the “why” behind one’s work reinforces the importance of collaboration and supporting one another. Celebrate financial successes and also financial worries, if things aren’t going well. Corporate honesty is as important in building trust as personal honesty.
  • Take responsibility, and be accountable. Closely related to honesty, this is where you do the right thing, even when things go wrong. Even when it’s your fault. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver, and know that you cannot control every circumstance. Trust comes from showing leadership in the form of picking up the pieces and focusing on doing better next time.
  • Never say “I.” Your company cannot grow and thrive without the whole team pulling in the same direction. Sure, individuals should be acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions, but trust comes from knowing you’ll not only receive credit, you won’t be trampled by someone else’s ambition. When it’s all about “us,” people are far more willing to open up and share their ideas.
  • Listen up, and do everything you can to encourage and outright solicit input from all your people. The more brains that are directed to helping your company achieve its goals, the more likely you are to get there, faster. Creativity and innovation do not come from the “silent majority” but from people who aren’t afraid to think. That takes trust.
  • Expect the best from others and set a good example. Be good at what you do and passionate about it, too. Enthusiasm and the desire to excel are infectious. Arrive on time. Strive to produce great work. And keep your word. Every day.
  • Demonstrate good judgment. It’s not always necessary to speak your mind, and it’s never a good idea to private details about your company or co-workers. That’s called gossip, and it undermines trust.
  • Help one another. When a person or team needs additional expertise or more hands on deck, pitch in. It is your job. Leaders should coach and mentor, setting expectations and then allowing individuals to meet those expectations in their own way, as much as possible. Make you’re your people have the tools and resources they need to do the superior work you expect.

And, finally, never underestimate the amazing power of the words “thank you.” Building trust in the workplace is essential, but everyone wants to know their efforts are appreciated.

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