Employees are often suspicious of management. Everyone has had a bad boss in the past, and that experience can taint future interactions, unless good bosses are sensitive to this baggage.
You can't take suspicion personally, but you do need to address it. Distrust can drain employee productivity and motivation. It can keep communication from flowing freely, too, which means you miss out on critical insights and solutions. Fortunately, fostering trust isn't as complicated as it might seem.
1) Show up, and stay involved.
Who inspires the most trust? Someone who breezes in to offer dictates from on high, or someone who is in the trenches every day, working side by side with the team?
Your work isn't going to be the same work as your employees, but you're still contributing to the team. Your passion is infectious, and your attitude sets an example.
You also listen. You don't make decisions until you have some idea of how those decisions will impact your "boots on the ground." You never get so far from your roots that you forget what it was like to be out in the field trying to make sales, or what it was like to deal with that difficult customer on the phones.
2) Hold yourself to the same standards.
Managers who show up at 10 a.m., who take three-hour lunche,s and who are out of the office by 4 don't have much credibility when they insist that employees make it into the office at 8:00 a.m. on the dot and don't leave one second before 5:00. If you want punctual, dedicated employees who will work diligently without watching the clock, then you need to be that kind of person yourself.
Get to the office at the same time as everyone else. Leave when everyone else does--or a little after. You'll retain the moral high ground when it's time to discuss tardiness with someone who is under your supervision. The "privileges of rank" may mean that you can get away with four-hour work days, but exercising those privileges won't help anyone trust you.
3) Don't forget the fun.
Misery is not the purpose of work. Some people forget that. They go out of their way to make work as miserable as possible for everyone. They foster a belief that you're not working if you're not suffering.
That's silly. The purpose of work is to produce a good or a service and to get paid for doing so. Sometimes, injecting a little joy into the process helps you fulfill that purpose.
Barbara Corcoran is worth $66 million. She'll tell you that "fun is good for business," too. Some of your ideas for fun might fall flat. That's OK. Employees may not leap to participate in "Wear Your PJs to Work Day," but they'll appreciate your efforts just the same. Don't forget to ask them what might be fun for them, too. Incorporating their ideas will help you do a better job of bringing the joy. It also proves that you're willing to listen to what they have to say. That's the biggest trust builder of all.