Right or wrong, there is a natural, adversarial relationship between employees and the boss. Often this comes from a lack of trust. Many employees believe they are there to be exploited, and many bosses believe their employees are looking to take ungrateful advantage of most situations.
These adversarial relationships are often over considered, but that doesn't mean the feelings of mistrust aren't real or obtrusive. The responsibility of building trust belongs primarily to the leader, since he or she is the one with the most to gain, and ultimately has control of the work environment.
Here are 6 tested ways to increase the trust in your office. Regardless of where you are on the trust scale, these are sure to help put your employees a bit more at ease.
1. Demonstrate vulnerability.
As a leader you don't need to be perfect. Employees know when you have made mistakes and for the most part won't mind unless you cover them up or deny they existed. Let them see your humanity. If you show you can handle adversity in a real human way, they will see themselves in your actions and feel more confident to resolve things when they err.
2. Show Genuine Care.
Employees are humans and have lives outside the office. They are more than just the work they do for the company. Don't look at their outside time as a necessary evil. Take a real interest in who they are and the world around them. If you don't take it to the point of being creepy they will appreciate you seeing them as more than just a worker.
3. Tell the truth.
A single lie can break years of trust building. Sure honesty can be uncomfortable but the truth tends to come out eventually anyway. Even lying by omission says to your team that you don't trust them with information, so why should they trust you? Maintain a spirit of openness and if you keep it kind you'll achieve trust and respect amongst the team.
4. Run a meritocracy.
People need to know their work is valued. Advancing people because of politics or cronyism tells the team there is no need to work hard or be dedicated. Set reasonable open standards for raises and promotions. Give helpful feedback and support so team members can advance based on their own accomplishments.
5. Incorporate feedback.
If employees feel they have no voice they won't trust the leader. Create a system, anonymous or not, where employees can easily provide feedback. Even if you can't incorporate it, make sure to acknowledge the suggestions so people know they are being heard.
6. Be Generous.
Generosity implies you give of yourself. Show your team they are worth effort from you. No matter how hard it may seem, you need to give them the things that let them know you think of them as important. Give them your time. Give them your attention. Give them your insights. Give them your experience. Give them your concern. Give them your appreciation.