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Research shows that high-performing organisations have engaged employees. Why? Because engaged employees feel connected to their work and their colleagues.

They love to learn, and they find reward through knowing they’ve made a positive difference. According to the Edelman trust barometer, 96% of engaged employees say that they trust management.

Only 46% of disengaged employees trust management, according to this survey. So, if you want a more engaged team, you’ve got to build more trust. It takes long-term, consistent effort to build. But, it’s oh so quickly lost.

trust is a fickle currency

Think about or back to somebody you trust. What was it that engendered that trust? Often it’s the seemingly small things. When I think back to my childhood conversations with my grandfather, a man I trusted completely. It was the way he would stop and listen. He created a safe space for me to share what was occupying my young mind. I felt heard, I felt understood. I felt that at that moment what I had to say mattered, and I was enough.

Creating trust with colleagues does on occasion require courage. Neuroscientists have reported that we build trust when we recognise how somebody else is feeling, and we take the time to communicate that we’ve recognised that.

Be careful not to put your label on how they’re feeling, get it wrong and you’ll be seen as presumptuous with your trust metre taking a hit. Circumvent this potential pitfall by leaving room for feedback. Hey, Bobby, you seem sad, is everything ok?

This leaves room for Bobby to let you know how he’s really feeling if he’s not feeling sad. We build more trust when we ask about negative emotions over positive ones because we invest the time to witness how Bobby’s feeling and what’s going on for him. It’s important that you have the time to see this exchange through to its natural conclusion. Any attempt to head off to the meeting that you are already on your way to and interrupt the natural flow of this conversation will be seen as uncaring.

The trusted leader

Caring managers and colleagues build trust. Uncaring ones erode trust. Keep confidence in confidence. Nobody trusts the gossip, and be prepared to follow up if that’s what Bobby needs.

A trusted leader is one who is seen to have your back. They share the values that matter and their words match their actions. Has there been a time when you’ve said one thing and done something different? If there has, what can you do today to be transparent about that and begin to repair the fallout from it?

Just because you’re unaware of the fallout doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Employees trust managers who admit their mistakes, provide their scene to learn from them, apologising for something that was said or done, and then, repeat the said transaction apologising for something that was said or done and then repeating the said transgression will drop your trust metre faster than a pebble dropped in still water, and the ripple effect is likely to add to life, to the, and the ripple effect is likely to add life to the transgression long after it would normally be consigned to living memory. It’s important to be human, so there’s no benefit to putting on a brave face when you’re hurting.

Sharing is caring

Share what’s going on for you if that’s appropriate. Ask for help. Let somebody experience the uplifting feeling that comes from serving another with love and compassion.

Talk about your hopes and your dreams. Get out of your way to connect with your people. Trusted leaders, role model the behaviour they want to see in their teams.

  • Are you clear on what those behaviours are?
  • How do they show up?
  • What could you do to showcase them even more than you do today?
  • Building on from last week’s episode about curating your personal brand, what three words would best describe you as a trusted leader?
  • Why those words?
  • How do they compare to the three words you chose last week?
  • How would you role model the person that those three words describe?
  • How does that compare to the person you’re role modelling today?

Oprah Winfrey said in all her time interviewing people, it came back to three common desires that have allowed her to hold the microphone without judgement.

Do you see me?

Do you hear me?

Does what I say mean anything to you?

When you think about your time at work. How are you choosing to hold your microphone, for example, are you addicted to being right? How does the addiction impact your team? Are you comfortable sharing the microphone so that your team are empowered to curate their personal brand when we’re busy investing time, creating trust and being seen as the leader worthy of your team’s trust?

engagement equals productivity

When we’re busy investing time, creating trust and being seen as the leader worthy of your team’s trust can easily be put to the side as something you’ll get back to when you have the time. But if it’s not a priority, that time will never be there. The more engaged your team is, the more productive they are, the better their health and well-being and the lower your staff turnover rates are.

Building trust is one of those in-the-moment activities that have significant downstream benefits. So tell me, what’s the one thing you can do today to increase your trust barometer?