First, Care! Care about your people. Who exactly it is you are taking care of? Johnson and Johnson famously had a disaster with Tramadol that had a negative effect on their customers. Their mission statement included a line about them caring about every single man, woman and child that they served in making sure they deliver something that will help them. They made the decision to bring every single tramadol bottle off the shelves. It cost them millions. They were not afraid to say, we don't know, we made a mistake, we will find a way to remedy it. Now that brand has grown year on year.
Own the mistake. Johnson and Johnson accepted the mistake and their response cost them millions, but it put people first over money. Kept to their core value. They told the truth and took action that was only of benefit to the people over the company. It has meant that the company is now more profitable.
Talk in the language everyone understands. Corporations will often use a language all of their own. This might feel great but does not entice new employees, or new customers. Big explanations no longer work. A dear line manager of mine once told me if you can’t fit it onto an A4 sheet then don’t pitch it to me.
People need to believe facts. There is a growing confidence in the UK at the moment in statistics but that may not be the same for every country or every organisation. State how you came by the evidence, what it aims to achieve and what you plan to do with it. Wages and scales are a great example of building trust that every person doing the same job is on the same salary.
Build followers. Every social media group now has followers, made up of people who believe in your brand, your product or you. This comes from being honest and trustworthy.
Thank you. Giving out a public recognition to a person or group for a great job immediately is important. For example: Your small sales team stayed up late all week putting the tender together for a new project, they have poured their hearts into the bid. You will hear if the company made it through to the next stage in a month. It might be easy to pass by the team and say well done, you might think it is better to say well done when the results come in.
However, what you should be thinking is that you want to thank them that very moment in front of all the office. To gather everyone around and praise the hard work and commitment. It was a tight deadline and whatever happens, if we make it through to next round or not, we can say we put our hearts into it. I have never in my career had that happen, but I have seen it happen in some of the greatest businesses that we know. As I have said be grateful, say thank you, do it from the heart with meaning and you will I guarantee build trust in your organisation. If you are unable to thank your staff, please seek out coaching as this is not an issue with your staff but something you need to work on to be a great leader.
SMART. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive) is probably one of the most common ways to set goals. In truth, how many people use that when they are assigning an activity to their staff?
So, you have a new project to complete and you have to give out some of that work. People want to be given these challenges and to problem solve, this releases all the good hormones when they get to deliver. However, if you have not checked that the goals you have given out are SMART, then they are usually not achievable and will cause distrust that can and will eat away at the company.
Trusting people and not needing to control everything is an art. It takes work on building the walls to the house, and high levels of self-awareness. However, you will see strong change in productivity if you can make it happen.
Trust takes time to build. Phil Smith, Chairman at IQE, Prev. CEO of Cisco, talked about a situation where they had had a particularly poor employee engagement measurement score (while at Cisco). Phil had been concerned and had set about generating ideas on how to improve it based on the feedback. He then conducted a roadshow to share what would happen, made a plan for a great overall workplace engagement score and, when they redid the survey after all this, there was no change. However, he said they carried on with the plan anyway not for the statistics but just knowing that it was the right thing to do. When they did re-test a year later and every year subsequently, the results just kept on rising. Have patience and be consistent. Trust is not built on words, it’s built on actions.
Environment. As Sally Waterston has also proved with the flexible working approach, which has also been proven in recent surveys, autonomy over work conditions communicates to employees that their leadership trusts them. A Citigroup and LinkedIn survey (71) found that nearly half of employees would forfeit a 20 percent raise for greater control over their work environment. It is proven over and over again, that where people can work in an environment where they are happy they will be more productive.
Communicate a lot. Newsletters and internal comms should always go out before external communications. Why? because it shows you trust people. Share everything on the company’s direction. Share hopes and dreams. What is discussed on the agenda of the board meetings. It doesn't happen but it should, if there is nothing to hide from the employees which there never should be, then share and share some more. Communication should be done in original ways because you can make it fun, be creative.
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