TEAM BUILDING

9 Ways to Win Employee Trust

Employees work harder when they know the boss is trustworthy.
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If your employees trust you, they'll go the proverbial extra mile but if they don't, they'll slack off, according to a recent survey by The Forum Corporation.  Therefore, building trust is the best way to get the most from your employees. Here's how:

1. Coach don't command. Employees notice when your idea of "teamwork" is having people do exactly what you tell them to do. Dale Carnegie had it right, decades ago, when he advised that manager should ask questions rather giving direct orders.

2. Tell the truth. Employees realize there's stuff you can't share, like what you're paying other people.  However, employees always find out when you do something underhanded, like telling two people that you're grooming them for the same position.

3. Follow through. How can your employees possibly trust you if you don't fulfill your commitments?  Just as you expect your employees to deliver on their promises, they expect the same from you.

4. Take blame but give credit. Here's one of the great truths of management: if your team fails, it's your fault; if your team succeeds, it's the team's achievement.  Getting this backwards makes bosses look stupid.

5. Don't badmouth. Employees aren't stupid. Jill knows that if you're badmouthing Joe behind Joe's back, you'll be badmouthing Jill as soon as she's not around. How can you trust somebody who does that?

6. Walk the talk. Don't ever ask an employee to do something that you're not willing to do yourself.  Ever.

7. Listen more and talk less. By the very nature of things, your employees know more about your customers than you do. Therefore, if you truly want your business to succeed, keep your ears more open and your mouth more shut.

8. Admit when you're wrong. It's hard to trust somebody who's too insecure to admit when he's wrong. Of the employees that Forum surveyed, 50% said that the boss never apologizes while only 5% said that the boss always apologizes when wrong.  Sad, eh?

9. Make employee success your #1 job. As I've written previously, the #1 job of every employee is to make the boss more successful, but that only works when your employees know it's a two-way street and that you're looking out for their best interests.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Nov 13, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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