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Trust – we all agree it’s fundamental to any organization. Employees have to trust their bosses, managers have to trust their staff, customers have to trust the business. And it’s far easier said than done. How do you create a work environment that reinforces trust and builds the loyalty necessary for a strong, successful organization?

In the Harvard Business Review, Carolyn O’Hara lists trust-building behaviors:

  1. Get to know your employees and find common ground, to demonstrate that your goals align with their goals.
  2. Be truthful and transparent; when you trust your staff with information, they will trust you back.
  3. Take responsibility for the mistakes, and share in the credit for successes. Integrity reinforces trust.
  4. Show competence, update your skills, and when you don’t know something, seek out an expert. Your employees will trust in your authority, and your own competence will raise their competence levels.

Autonomy and empowerment also demonstrate your trust in your team. Giving employees a clearly-defined goal, then letting them decide how to achieve it within given parameters, shows that you trust them to get the job done. Your workplace policies, too, can underscore autonomy and empowerment. Flex hours and telecommuting say you have faith in your team’s decision-making for the good of the organization.

Trusting your employees to make their own decisions about when and where to work can present a challenge for facilities management, however. Businesses may find their offices half empty on many days, and they’re paying rent for an excess of space. Hoteling-style open office plans may “right-size” the space, but not allow enough sound control for collaborative meetings and conversations.

Solving the space utilization challenge is a golden opportunity to build trust. Marie Puybaraud, writing in Entrepreneur, recommends including staff in the design process. Not only will they feel trusted (and will trust you in return), but they will be very invested in the success of the design. With innovative products like adaptive furnishings and modular cabinetry, office space can be used with maximum flexibility. The ability to rearrange work areas on the fly increases workers’ autonomy, and the circle of trust gets stronger.

Forbes Magazine terms trust a critical success factor for businesses, “the fabric that holds everything together.” Shape your workplace to show you trust your team, and they will reward you with loyalty and dedication. Those are results you can trust.


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