“I trust you” are among the three most powerful words you can say in any business relationship, and “trust” is one of the greatest gifts you could offer employees.
Consider how many potential hours of oversight and follow-up you can get back when you’re working with people you trust. On the other hand, think of the anxiety and back-and-forth communications in situations or relationships that lack trust.
Trust has the power to fuel a company’s growth at all levels of an organization while a lack of trust can hinder progress. There are a ton of advantages gained in the workplace by nurturing relationships based on trust — whether that’s a relationship with your boss, a client, a colleague, or a vendor.
As an agency owner, I put a lot of trust in my staff on any given day. That sense of trust is the foundation for a lot of agency policies. An example of one of those policies is called “life happens” — it exists solely for life’s most unexpected moments like when your fridge breaks, your kid gets sick, your flight gets canceled, etc.
When those things happen, we don’t make our employees take a vacation day, personal day, or any other day… it’s just “life happens.” The same thing goes with unlimited work-from-home days and unlimited sick days. These are policies that require trust to be sustainably effective. When you trust your employees, you’re able to provide an environment where “work-life-balance” isn’t just a catchphrase… it’s a policy we are actively investing in, and it’s one everyone honors.
When it comes to building an agency based on this type of value, I turn to the leadership team I’ve worked with for over a decade. I couldn’t possibly trust a group of people more than I do these folks. The agency wouldn’t be what it is today without this supportive team I genuinely trust and believe in.
So, when it comes to building trust in an organization, my advice would be to start by building it within your team. These are the five traits I believe create a trustworthy environment.
- Authenticity. I trust that when I turn my back or am not in the room, my best interests are at my team’s heart. I know my team members are genuine in the way they carry themselves no matter who they are engaging with or what situation they’re in.
- Courtesy. I trust that my team will do what they say they will do. If a colleague promises to do something by a specific date or time, I know they will deliver. If they can’t deliver, I know I will get a heads up rather than finding out in the moment.
- Directness. I trust that my team will be direct with me… whether that’s telling me I have a piece of spinach stuck in my tooth or that I was too overbearing in that last meeting.
- Thoughtfulness. I trust that my team genuinely cares about my well-being and that when they ask “how are you” it’s a real question rather than a nicety. If I were gone tomorrow, I know my team would see that as a loss rather than a stepping stone.
- Commitment. My team values our relationship and always try to bring their best work, attitude, and effort to whatever we do together. Of course, we all have our days (we’re human), so they also understand when “our best” needs a day off. In those times, the rest of us on the team naturally step up.
Without trust, there is no way we would have experienced the growth that we’ve had as an agency. Without actively nurturing trust, we wouldn’t be equipped to move forward through our next wave of growth. If you’re in the process of building a team, these are the traits I recommend you look for.
Otherwise, I encourage you to consider the people in your organization you already rely on. Those people have given you one of the greatest gifts one could ask for in a work environment. Today, share a spontaneous “thank you,” high five, a cup of coffee, or after-work drink with them — it’s likely long overdue (and a little gratitude goes a long way).