You want to build a thriving business — a business that wows its customers, drives massive profits, and survives well into the future. But, of course, you can’t do it alone. Whether you’re the CEO, the founder, or even the ground-floor manager, you’ll need employees dedicated to your cause.
Finding people is easy; lots of people are looking for work. The trick, then, is finding the right people and keeping them motivated. And as it turns out, building trust with your employees is one of the best things you can do to keep them happy, motivated, and hard-working. According to a study by Virgin Pulse, 60% of employees said that a relationship with their employer positively impacts their focus and productivity while at work, and 44% said it decreases their stress levels.
And if that’s not enough to make you want to build trust with your employees, also consider that disengaged employees cost businesses $500 billion every single year, according to research by The FAAS Foundation. The point is, you need to build trust with your employees; doing so can save you time, money, and it can help you build a more successful business.
To help, here are 3 ways you can build unwavering trust with your employees.
1. Respond to feedback and criticism constructively
Criticism, feedback, employee evaluations; it’s all a natural part of the workplace. If you’re a business leader, you’re going to have to deal with people telling you what they think. But how you deal with employee feedback and criticism can make all the difference.
According to research by LeadershipIQ, only 23% of employees said that their employers “respond constructively” when they share their work problems. More revealing, employees who said their employers always respond constructively were 12 times more likely to label their company as a great employer. In other words, responding constructively to employee feedback and criticism can increase employee satisfaction.
But how do you respond constructively? The founder of the company which ran that study explains, “Part of responding constructively when your employees share their problems is to respond more like a coach and less like a manager.” As any good coach would do, ask questions, be genuinely interested in the problem their facing, and instill confidence that they can solve it without your help.
2. Give specific, authentic praise
Giving employees specific criticism about their work is effortless, since mistakes and errors are easy to spot. But while specific critique is necessary for correcting employee slip-ups, we must not forget about the inspiring, trust-building impact of specific, authentic praise.
And there’s a big difference between specific, authentic praise and vague, disingenuine praise. Specific, authentic praise builds trust and encourages employees to repeat behaviors that benefit the business. Vague praise, on the other hand, can unintentionally build resentment since it feels inauthentic and does nothing to encourage beneficial behaviors. It’s the difference between, “You did a great job with that presentation” and “Wow. I really enjoyed the data you used in your presentation. That really drove home your point. Great work.”
The goal isn’t to blind your employee’s egos with unhelpful flattery, but to build a trusting relationship and, at the same time, encourage behaviors which benefit the business. Joe Auer, the founder of Mattress Clarity, explains, “To build trust with your employees, you need to give specific and meaningful feedback, positive or negative. You should avoid just saying ‘Good work!’ or ‘Bad job’ and instead, opt for feedback specific to certain behaviors. That builds trust because people believe you when you’re telling them what you think. The feedback also becomes more impactful.” So give your employees the specific praise that they crave. Be authentic. And that will forge a relationship which lasts well into the future.
3. Understand what motivates each employee
Not all employees are the same. Some employees are motivated by trying to get a promotion. Some employees want to get a raise. And some employees just want to keep doing what they’re doing and hear a “thank you” every now and again. Treating employees like they’re all motivated by the same thing is a sure-fire way to make them feel like you don’t understand them, lose trust, and build resentment.
I asked Justin Dossey, the CEO of Call Porter and manager of many millennial employees, about how he builds trust with his team, he explained, “To keep millennials engaged and build trust with them, you need a great culture. Make it fun, give them options and help them be a part of something bigger than themselves. I find a lot of millennials are always looking for the next best thing and want to feel like they belong to a greater purpose.” He continued, “Have real conversations with your employees, find out how they are doing at work and at home, and do what you can to help them. Building trust simply comes down to your management genuinely caring for people and not treating them like another number.”
When you take the time to figure out what motivates your employees, when you take the time to understand them, you prove that you authentically care about them and their desires, and, more importantly, you build trust that can last a lifetime.
Maintaining trusting relationships with your employees can increase the efficiency of your team, save you time and money, and even make work more enjoyable. When you count on your employees, they count on you, and everyone trusts each other, the end result is a business with more agility and a greater impact. That is why you need trust. And you can use the above 3 strategies to get it.