Six ways to build trust with your employees

Last week I wrote an article, Four ways to build trust with your customers. I don’t think anyone will say (and the stats prove it) that a customer who trusts you is more likely to do more business with you. After all, why would they want to risk doing business elsewhere?

Well, it’s the same for employees. With so many employment issues today, finding and keeping good employees is more important than ever. One of the crucial areas that can boost employee retention is trust. Just like customers, if employees don’t trust you, they may eventually leave for a competitor. And in the world of employee retention, a competitor is any other company that offers employment opportunities.

With that in mind, here are six ways to build trust with your employees.

1. Listen to your employees. Ask them for feedback. Frontline employees often have a better opportunity to know what customers think and say about you than anyone else in the company. Listen to them. And many employees have suggestions for processes and systems that can be improved. Creating an easy way for employees to share feedback and make suggestions can be a powerful way to improve the experience, both for customers and for the employees themselves.

2. Act on the feedback and insights employees share with you. If you ask your employees for their feedback and ideas and don’t act on it, employees will end up blaming themselves for taking the time to offer their ideas and suggestions. And at some point, they will see it as a futile effort and a waste of time, even if what they share with you is important. Employees often provide even more valuable feedback than customers. So even if you choose not to use their suggestions, at least acknowledge their efforts, express your appreciation, and tell them why.

3. Make sure leadership and management are accessible. If there is a metaphorical wall between employees and management, employees will always feel like they are on the outside. And if they feel like an outsider, any organization that can make them feel more included and appreciated could be the next place your employee – who you thought was happy – ends up working. There are different ways to do this. An open door policy is not always realistic. As an alternative, consider having “office hours” – a special time each week when employees can make appointments. The point is, it should be easy for employees to communicate with their managers, supervisors, and leaders.

4. Get out of the office and mingle with the “people”. If the only time employees see management or leadership is when there are problems, then their sight will create a level of fear and tension. Years ago I read Tom Peter’s strategy which he called MBWA, Management by Wandering Around. The idea is that employees don’t fear the sight of management, as they get used to seeing their bosses and leaders walking around. If a manager shows up just to report problems or criticize, employees will always be worried when they see a manager or leader walking anywhere near them. The goal is to build trust, not fear.

5. Trust employees to do the job you hired them to do. If you hire good people and train them well, let them do their job. If employees feel like they are always being watched, scrutinized for their jobs, and not allowed to make the decisions you hired them to do, they will feel dissatisfied and frustrated. This is “empowerment 101”.

6. Treat employees the way you want the customer to be treated. I refer to this as The golden rule of employees. You cannot expect employees to behave towards customers and each other any differently, or even better, from the way they are treated by their managers and leaders. Your actions and attitude towards your employees should be consistent with how you want them to treat your customers. You can’t invite them into your office, yell at them, and then say, “Now go ahead and be nice to our customers.”

What happens inside the organization is felt outside by customers. To create the best customer experience, you need to create a similar, if not better, employee experience. Although there are many elements that go into creating a great culture for an organization, trust is one of the essential elements. Without it, you can’t expect to find and keep your best employees.

About Donnie R. Losey

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