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Why building trust in the workplace aids collaboration


Trust, both inside and outside of the workplace is the basis for healthy relationships.

It is the fundamental building block of a strong company culture and an essential component in collaborative workplaces.

Your organisation needs to build healthy relationships to succeed, both internally and with your customers. There needs to be an understanding between leaders, managers, and staff.

So, how does trust impact collaboration in the workplace? First, let’s define trust.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary trust is ‘to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.

The Oxford Dictionary defines trust as a ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.’

Importantly, trust is the basis for psychological safety, which is crucial for strong and successful business cultures. Trust is a basic human need. When people feel trust, they can be honest, open and share problems and ideas.

In this blog post, we’re going to look at the importance of trust in the workplace and why it’s fundamental to collaboration.

How to foster trust in business

trust

Building trust into your business culture starts at the top. Successful leaders understand the importance of trust and model themselves on that basis.

They also have the confidence to put their trust in others. This requires effective communication, openness, transparency, discipline, and effort. Trust doesn’t just happen, it is earned.

In order to build trust in the workplace, leaders must:

  • Do what they say they are going to do
  • Be approachable and operate an open-door policy
  • Be honest
  • Show support for employees, even when mistakes are made
  • Be respectful of people, their ideas and views
  • Balance business needs with the needs of employees
  • Be consistent
  • Be accountable
  • Model expected behaviour
  • Recognise that trust must be earned
  • Recognise that it takes continual effort

Now let’s take a look at why trust is so important to collaboration.

Disengaged employees don’t collaborate

If you have ever managed employees who don’t trust each other, you will know how frustrating, challenging and draining it can be.

A loss of trust is hugely detrimental to outcomes. When employees don’t trust leaders or each other, they disconnect from business values and spend more time watching their backs than working together.

No matter how capable your team is, if they don’t trust their leaders, line managers or each other, they won’t be sharing information and supporting each other. This is hugely detrimental to day-to-day operations and ultimately business success.

A lack of trust means people hold back on productivity, don’t share the important ideas required for problem-solving and will never go the extra mile. Also, employees who aren’t feeling good about the vibe at work won’t be going above and beyond for your customers.

Trust is the basis for positive relationships at work

best friend at work

Research by Gallup shows a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

For example, survey results show that women who say they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63 percent) compared with the women who say otherwise (29 percent).

Human beings are social creatures and they need good working relationships in order to feel happy at work. These relationships can’t flourish in an environment where trust is an issue. Trust is the foundation of good relationships.

Cliques are much more likely to form in a toxic business culture where trust has been eroded. This isn’t good for collaboration, as people start to work against each other, rather than come together. This friction is detrimental to collaboration, employee engagement, and productivity.

Trust is at the heart of transparency and open communication

Collaboration at work demands open communication and transparency. Trust is essential for building a culture of open communication and this is the basis for optimum collaboration in the workplace.

Without open communication teams just can’t be as effective. In fully collaborative and high-performing teams, individuals need to know they can be vulnerable with one another. 

The withholding of information or miscommunication can damage trust, as can poor change management. Leaders who look after number one and aren’t transparent and honest with their people are ultimately damaging the potential of their business.

The most successful leaders understand the importance of trust for collaboration. They trust themselves, act with integrity and they trust their employees. This is the basis of good business culture and the key to collaborative workplaces.

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