How is the trust level in your organization? If it’s not where you’d like it to be, raise the level of empowerment in your organization.
Consider this: Leaders confer the highest levels of authority and trust on employees who effectively complete tasks, resolve problems and make fair decisions. These employees, in turn, become more open to trusting others. Trust is a commodity people spend in proportion to what they receive.
As a leader, you convey trust by honoring people’s ideas and suggestions and letting them pursue those with merit. In my work as a coach, I have seen the best leaders give people opportunities to earn trust and allow the luxury of failure as they work toward accomplishing their goals. You see, failure is often the most valuable way to learn and grow. As JetBlue’s Joel Peterson points out in, The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great (AMACOM, 2016), sharing some of your power creates a higher level of trust among your employees.
When I discuss this with my coaching clients, I recommend that they develop a suggestion-submission system, where employees’ ideas for improvement are evaluated. To encourage the process (and increase trust), it’s important to recognize and reward those whose ideas are implemented. It’s also important to examine your policies and procedures to determine whether any can be improved based on the staff suggestions. Employees are the true experts in how things work at the most detailed organizational levels. The trust they feel from leadership will carry over to their peers.
Allow employees to be cross-trained so they can be more empowered. This raises their level of engagement. Offer them training or continuing-education opportunities. The feeling of being trusted to add value raises their appreciation for trust. A mentor program also empowers both mentors and mentees. Employees who feel trusted claim a higher stake in the organization and have greater trust in their coworkers, leaders and future.