The Five B’s for Building a Culture of Trust

Trust is the key ingredient of a healthy workplace culture, and trust is a huge predictor of the success of the leadership of any business. When your team trusts you and each other, everything works better. That’s why it is important to develop a Culture of Trust in your business.

We are wired to want to trust others. And we are disappointed when people fail to live up to those expectations. When trust is absent, everything becomes more difficult.

Building trust will be key in moving your business forward. Your trustworthiness will be the most important aspect of your leadership. But you have to earn the right to be trusted. You have to show that you are trustworthy.

Here are five B’s necessary for building a Culture of Trust.


1. Building up your team


Trust your employees enough to consider their requests and ideas to improve the company. As a result, you will build your team’s confidence in themselves.

Empower your team to make decisions that affect what they do. They know how to do their job better than you do. So encourage them to make decisions in their area of expertise. Giving your team the ability to “own” what they do will produce better results and will demonstrate that you trust them.

Former Starbucks President Howard Behar maintains that whoever sweeps the floors must be able to choose the broom. Because that’s how they will get the best results. The ones who will be held responsible for the results ought to get to choose the means through which they will achieve those results.

It is up to you to help them feel empowered enough to do what they think will best advance the company and best serve the customer. The empowerment process will enable them to have an ownership mentality. They will see how they are active players, and they will realize that they have something to offer because their boss is willing to listen to what they have to say.


2. Becoming a learner


To be the leader, you don’t need to look like the smartest person in the room. Instead you need to be the person who is always learning.

You might think that admitting what you don’t know exposes you as being vulnerable. Actually, your team will see you as being real with them. That vulnerability will endear you to your team because they will know you are telling them the truth.

It’s okay to be humble and ask for your team’s suggestions. Ask them how you could be a better boss. Ask how you could be a greater resource to them. And ask them for their thoughts on big decisions you need to make. They may well have an answer for you. And you may be surprised by what you will learn.

By admitting that you don’t know everything, they will respect your leadership all the more. The more humility you exhibit as a leader to your team, the more you can inspire confidence in your leadership ability. (TWEET)


3. Being fair


Your organization will benefit the most when you seek to create a Culture of Trust. Everything you do as a leader should be focused on fostering an environment of trust. And fairness is a crucial piece of creating a Culture of Trust.

Your employees will be extremely sensitized to what they deem to be fair. If you play favorites, you will not develop an environment that is perceived as fair, and it will not encourage trust on your team.

John Mackey and Raj Sisodia point out in Conscious Capitalism that “trust quickly unravels when there is a perception of unfairness. Human beings have a strong need to be respected, heard, and treated fairly. Research has shown that most people would rather have a fair and transparent process for making decisions, even if it leads to an unfavorable outcome for them personally, than an unfair process that may result in a positive outcome for them.”

Your workplace is looking for you to provide a place where everyone can contribute to the organization. You can create a workplace culture that is beneficial to everyone by treating your team with the same fairness with which you would want to be treated.


4. Being loyal


If you remain loyal to your team when they fail, the loyalty they develop will be unswerving. They need to know that you will defend them if they try new things.

Innovation happens when people feel free enough to exercise their good judgment without fear of reprisal. When you allow your team to fail, you will encourage your team to take initiative.

I heard a story about a young executive who, early on in his career, made a mistake that cost his company $2 million. After worriedly putting together his resume, he went into his boss’ office to tender his resignation. At this action, his boss was incredulous: “I just invested $2 million in your training and you are going to resign?!” The young executive’s boss understood that he had to give him enough latitude to fail in order for him to learn how to succeed.

Trust your people and trust their judgment. Your team will fail. Your team will learn. And your team will grow.


5. Believing in your team


Trust is a powerful motivator. Choose to believe the best about your employees. Tell them that you trust them. Then demonstrate that you trust them.

Your team wants to do good work. Tell your team you believe in them. Tell them you are counting on them. Let them know that you fully believe in the quality of the work they can do. You may be surprised how much that extension of trust can transform your team.

JetBlue does not have a call center where all their reservations are handled; instead calls are taken by reservationists in their own homes. JetBlue leadership believes in their reservationists: they are trusted to do their jobs, even when they cannot be observed. I think JetBlue reservationists are as courteous as—if not more courteous than—those who work in a centralized location.

When you believe in your employees, they will want to show you that you have made a good decision in giving them your trust. They will want to perform to your expectations to show you that you can continue to extend your trust to them. The belief that you have in them will be reciprocated as well. They will end up believing more in you and in your leadership too.

As a leader, you will build a Culture of Trust by believing in and building up your team, by being fair and loyal, and by becoming a continuous learner. In the process, you will transform your workplace—and you will transform you.


Dear Boss

Did you know that I

* Perform organizational culture assessments,
* Coach leaders how best to lead their teams, and
* Train teams how to best perform like a team?

To find out more, check out my new book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.

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