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Three steps to trust, not bust

Trust. Just as relationships in your private life rely on it, so do your business partnerships. You only need to look at a company such as consumer success story eBay to understand the fundamentals of trusting business relations.

The vast majority of eBay’s customers and sellers are complete strangers to each other, yet they readily agree to transfer money in exchange for goods every day – a feat former eBay CEO Meg Whitman attributes to people everywhere being basically good. It goes without saying that trust is integral to eBay’s continued success – just as it should be in any business.

Trust should be embedded at every level of an organisation, from the C-Suite to entry level employees because without it, a company can begin to unravel quickly — employees will lose faith in the company’s vision, and customers will lose faith in the company’s ability to provide value and security.

These three steps ensure that organisations can build solid, long-lasting relationships based on trust that are architected to survive from the very beginning:

1. Dream big, but dream smart

Don’t be afraid to dream big, but make sure your dreams are achievable. Being able to execute your business goals and targets demonstrates to your employees that you have a firm grasp on your organisation’s short-term priorities and long-term vision.

In order to do that, you need to clearly communication your organisation’s high level goals over the next few years, as well as set the weekly, monthly and quarterly milestones it needs to meet along the way.

Long term plans and how you intend to measure this success should remain fluid – and whenever possible, you should hold regular reviews on your long-term targets. Relay your progress, both good and bad, back to your employees. Creating a transparent environment will strengthen your employee’s trust in your ability to lead.

2. Be open and communicative

Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” Trust across the workforce is established and maintained through strong management. Managers bring to life the company ethos, and instill it within their teams by establishing open, honest lines of communication.

That said, the fastest way to damage trust in the workplace is for managers to give excuses such as, “it wasn’t my decision,” or “it’s above my pay grade.” Avoiding responsibility is detrimental to your character as a leader. Strong managers determine the context or reasoning behind the tougher decisions, and share details with their team. It is unrealistic to think every business decision is going to be favourable with your employees, but having managers who are open, communicative and willing to accept responsibility for those tougher decisions, will earn the trust of their employees.

3) Review your management

Staffing decisions can also affect employees’ trust in your organisation and managers. In Okta’s early years, we sometimes delayed letting struggling managers go. In the end, our decision to wait ended up having negative repercussions on team morale.

If a manager is consistently not performing or meeting your standards, you shouldn’t wait to let them go. Stalling will affect your team’s trust in you since the managers you hire are reflective of your values. If you want your employee’s trust, you will need to hold your management responsible.

If your organisation wants to maintain a favourable working environment, establishing trust between management and employees should be a top priority at all levels. Implementing processes to build and maintain transparency across the organisation as a whole, ensuring the execution of your company’s vision for years to come.

Building trust between employees and managers can be challenging, but without it your organisation cannot survive.

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder, Okta

Image Credit: Shutterstock/xtock