Difficult to earn and easily lost, trust and respect are two of the most important characteristics of great leadership. Workers look to their leaders for guidance and behavioral cues that influence the way they react to a given situation. So, the trust a workforce has for the people in charge greatly impacts productivity.
In fact, according to the 2017 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 61% of employees said trust in senior management is very important to their job satisfaction. Even more striking, only 33% said they were “very satisfied” with the level of trust in their organization overall.
So, what does it take to earn trust and respect from employees? Check out these five important qualities, and let us know if your boss (or past boss) has what it takes.
They leave the door open
Free and open communication is essential for building trust and respect. Open door policies take many shapes, but fostering an environment where employees feel safe coming to the boss with workplace concerns, new ideas, or even constructive criticism, show that a leader is receptive to and genuinely interested in understanding the situation on the frontlines of the business.
They believe consistency is key
From how a leader reacts to project challenges to how he or she reprimands individual employees, consistency in words and actions is a major part of building trust. Inconsistent messages and unpredictable behavior will cause employees to feel that they can’t depend on a leader to make fair and honest choices of action in difficult situations.
They get their hands dirty
There are few better ways for a leader to build trust and respect than rolling up their sleeves and jumping down into the trenches with the employees. Showing that they aren’t afraid to step out on the front line and get their hands dirty creates a bond through shared experience and reminds workers that they’ve been there and have personally walked a few miles in their shoes.
Confidence in their decisions
Mental fortitude and resoluteness create confidence among employees. Wishy-washy decision making and uncertainty when the going gets tough causes doubt, and when the team isn’t fully behind their leader, a breakdown in communication and productivity is sure to follow.
They share their wisdom
As iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another—leaders who give willingly of their time and expertise to build up the next generation earn trust and respect from the people they lead. Not only do they set the standard for future leadership, they also leave behind a legacy worth celebrating.
Workforce productivity and success hinges largely on examples set by the people at the top. Building trust doesn’t happen overnight, but the leaders who invest the time to foster a positive working environment based on mutual respect will be rewarded with employees who are more engaged and loyal to their company.