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Build Trust, Improve Performance

By Lyneka Judkins, CEO at Forward Solutions, LLC

It is often said that employees do not quit companies, they quit supervisors. Even when a company offers the most attractive benefit package with a matching 401(k) plan, wellness incentives, generous PTO, sick, maternity and paternity leave, telecommute opportunities, etc., research is showing that it is not the benefits that most influence an employee’s decision to stay with a company or determines their level of engagement; it is the relationships, especially with their supervisor.

If people must spend half of their waking hours on the job, then they want to do so with people they like and supervisors they trust. If an employee feels they are in a place where they cannot trust the leadership, then they will not be engaged, they will not perform, and ultimately will not contribute to the mission and vision of the company. People are not willing to give their time, efforts, talents, and skills to a leader whom they do not trust will use it for the benefit of the company and the employee.

So how is trust built in order to not only maintain staff, but have them willingly show up each day and want to perform? As a starting point, leaders in organizations must carry themselves as follows:

  1. Possess Integrity– In order to be a person who can be trusted, a person must first be trustworthy. In every action, big or small, challenging or easy, a leader must display integrity; this reaffirms to employees that they can trust their supervisor is making the best decisions on the employees’ behalf.
  2. Compassionate and Understanding– Compassion and understanding allow employees to let their guard down and be open to trusting their supervisor and offer the opportunity to build a healthy and meaningful relationship.
  3. Impeccable to Their Word– Period. Do what you say you are going to do. The moment a leader does something opposite of what they said or takes no action at all, the leader’s word will hold no weight and employees will always question if they can trust what their leader commits to going forward.
  4. Fair– Showing favoritism is proof that a person is not strongly grounded in their principals, morals and values, and therefore lacks integrity. Lack of integrity prevents the opportunity for trust to be established and the building of a healthy and positive relationship to occur.
  5. Dependable– Employees need to know they can depend on their leaders. They need to be confident that someone has their back. If they are showing up each day and investing their time, talent and energy, they want to be sure it is for someone who they know will show up equally the same.

Trust is not something that can be built overnight, afforded the first day on the job, or given simply because of the leader’s title. It takes time to build trust and requires consistency in the five areas identified in the list above. Establishing trust and building a healthy and positive relationship with employees is one of the more time-consuming responsibilities of a leader’s role, but I argue, it is also one of the most critical and has the greatest return on investment.

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