By: Michael K. Higginbotham
Manager at ODL
Leadership Guru

The importance of trust in the working environment is continuously overlooked. With day-to-day tasks absorbing the majority of attention within an organization, who has time to build trust? – YOU DO!

The first hurdle of building trust is demolishing any power-hungry or ego-centric behavior from all leadership and management roles. Personnel in these leadership roles are meant to do one thing – serve their constituents. A leadership role is intended to be the ultimate resource to employees. Leadership provides the vision, clarity, knowledge, and problem solving – but is more often than not, can be manipulated into the role of delegation and overseeing. Creating trust between your team members is all about creating a level playing field.

We all know the supervisor that is continually reminding their employees who “is” boss. You witness him or her giving orders and micro-managing basic tasks. How can employees trust they are all on the same team? Take a step back, engage your team members with confidence to do the job correctly, and help guide the team towards accomplishing the team’s goal; don’t achieve it for them.

The second visible hurdle is consistency. Consistency should relate to all managerial and leadership tasks. It starts with how we treat our employees individually, to how we control our temperament in the good times and the bad. Don’t forget how important it is to maintain accountability and how we consistently show respect to all team members. How do you think an employee would feel if they regularly see their supervisor having positive interactions with one employee, but neglecting another? Consistently arriving to work as a fair and even-tempered leader shows great maturity in this role and is sure to help gain the trust of your team members.

The last hurdle is a lack of variety. Variety plays a unique role in trust when describing a leader’s ability to change regularly – adapting their communication styles and their forms of creativity to the masses. Yes, as stated before, consistency is excellent, but that consistency in our morning meetings or our work-flows can be disruptive to trust. Example: Imagine that you are an introverted personality. Your boss is the opposite. Every day they arrive to work and force your team to do a communication exercise, which brings you high anxiety. As much as you have attempted to show your displeasure with this, the leader doesn’t seem to notice. Over time the trust has evaporated, causing you to become frustrated with your job, all while compartmentalizing feelings of sadness and anxiety. Luckily, this example can be easily overcome with variety to include all team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Tailor activities and group events to different employees’ strengths, ensuring to gain trust through comfortability.

Don’t get it twisted – There is no one way to accomplish gaining trust. From my experience, trust is earned on the team members’ terms. But, if you need to get started – squash all ego-centric behavior, promote consistency in everything you do, and spice up the routine with variety. The rest should take care of itself.