Trust. A word defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as: "to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable."
Most of us understand that trust forms the basis of personal relationships, but did you know that it's just as paramount when it comes to business and professional relationships too?
The most successful organisations across the globe are built on trust and that means developing strong, trusting relationships between not only your employees and colleagues, but external contacts as well. It's a fact that people buy from people they trust, so ensuring that your customers believe and have confidence in you is essential in ensuring your ongoing success.
In this article we'll explore the importance of building workplace trust and how forging trust in you and your company are crucial steps to ensuring you're smashing those all-important business objectives.
Trust me, I'm an engineer!
We've already mentioned how important trust is in any organisation, but it's perhaps especially important in industries such as engineering. From the perspective of employees, engineers often work in challenging or high-risk environments, meaning that having trust of your management and peers comes down to much more than simply feeling warm and fuzzy at work - it can in fact have serious implications when it comes to safety and wellbeing.
From the point of view of a client, the risks are similar, and your customers will want to know that their potentially high-risk, high-value project is in safe hands. Your primary route to convincing them of that is to ensure you gain their trust in both you and your abilities.
Meeting objectives through trust
There's no doubt that trust is a key component to business success. Statistics have shown time and time again that teams instilled with trust are higher performing. But why is this the case? And why is it so important that you're gaining trust in your workplace and amongst your teams?
Well firstly, let's consider morale and motivation. When team members trust their management, and to some extent their colleagues too, morale is naturally higher. Like it or not, employees are inherently inclined to mistrust managers, but where leaders are able to turn this preconception around and actually gain the trust of their staff, the result is an increase in both morale and motivation. Employees working for individuals they believe 'have their back' are automatically more efficient, hardworking and greater performing.
Decreased workplace stress is something that can be achieved through ensuring a culture of trust as well. This spans not only your management/leadership team, but peer-to-peer trust too. Employees want to know they can trust that your Board will demonstrate openness when communicating on things like change, profit and loss figures and their career progression.
And, where team members have trust in one another, there's less hostility and increased teamwork and collaboration - all factors that will greatly benefit your organisation, productivity and retention.
Next, let's look at loyalty and retention - equally important considerations when thinking about both your employees and customers.
It goes without saying that having sound relationships built on trust in place, will ensure that you're able to retain valuable customers and that they're returning to use you time and time again. A business' reputation depends heavily on trust - not only so that your customers know they can rely on you and your services, but so that you can in turn, rely on them to pay invoices, bring return business and recommend you to others.
Having robust customer relationships in place will also help you to build market-place credibility through gathering things like case studies and testimonials that demonstrate to others that you are a trustworthy and professional partner.
Focusing on the loyalty and retention of employees, all businesses strive to lower their staff turnover rates, and a major consideration in achieving excellent staff retention ratios is whether your people place trust in you as their line manager and employer. There's a well-known saying that 'employees don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers', and this is never truer when thinking about the levels of trust that your employees are able to place in you and your leadership team.
Where trust isn't apparent, your people will feel uneasy, demotivated and are more likely to move to another organisation. Where trust is evident, employees will be more loyal, committed, productive and are much more likely to stay with your company for the long-term.
Closely linked with staff retention, trust should also be of significance when hiring. An individual's perception of you and your business will normally begin right from when they interview with you and you'll want to instill a sense of trust in order to attract new talent to your organisation.
And let's not forget things like remote working. Several recent surveys carried out on employee benefits have revealed that the most sought-after employee benefits are no longer necessarily linked to salaries and bonuses. Nowadays, and overtaking money-related benefits as employees' top priorities, are things like work/life balance and flexible/remote working options. But to successfully implement these kinds of opportunities into your workplace, there has to be a strong sense of trust between management and workers. Employees want to know they're trusted enough to carry out their work remotely, and managers of course want to be reassured that work will still be completed to a high standard under more flexible conditions. Once trusting relationships are built however, these more modern ways of working can function well in your organisation - and often result in a happier, more efficient workforce.
A culture of trust
There's no denying then, that building trust in the workplace is important, and it's obvious to see how gaining the trust of your colleagues and customers can play a vital role in helping you to achieve your critical business goals.
A key point to remember though? Building true trust into a relationship can be a very slow, steady process - but breaking that trust irreversibly can happen in an instant.
Make sure therefore, that trust is at the centre of your strategy for success and promoted throughout your business as an integral part of its culture.