Trustworthiness: The Key to Leading in Today’s World of Work

Trustworthy Leadership

How much has your workplace changed in the last few months?

For organizations across the country, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. Shifted many jobs to remote work. And unfortunately, led to millions of layoffs and furloughs.

Dramatic changes like these are giving rise to a new normal in the world of work: one that’s transforming jobs, reshaping industries…and reinventing leadership paradigms.

Today, we begin a series on what it takes to be a great leader in the new world of work. This first installment focuses on a leadership characteristic that’s critical during periods of change and uncertainty:


Why is trust so important?

Data published by Harvard Business Review shows that employees who work in high-trust environments report:

  • 76% more engagement
  • 74% less stress
  • 70% greater alignment with their companies’ purpose
  • 50% higher productivity

…than employees in low-trust environments.

Whether you’re trying to rebuild trust with employees you were forced to lay off or furlough, or simply want to develop your management skills, here’s how to become a more trustworthy leader:

4 Ways to Build Employee Trust

  • Overcommunicate.
    Information is the best defense against the anxiety your employees (especially those who are remote or have recently been brought back) may be feeling. They need more reassurance and communication than ever. Make sure your communication plans are comprehensive and inclusive:

    • Clearly document and share your health and safety protocols, so all workers feel safe.
    • Send more frequent update emails.
    • Consider adding a collaboration hub like Slack to encourage informal information-sharing.
    • Plan more frequent, short meetings with your team to stay connected.
  • Be transparent.
    Conditions are changing rapidly right now, and people throughout your organization may wonder about your company’s financial health, future plans and decision-making criteria. Help employees make sense of what’s going on in your organization by communicating plans, changes and news (both good and bad) thoroughly and frequently.
  • Engage on a human level.
    Building and repairing trusting relationships often requires spending one-on-one time with employees, getting to know them personally, and sharing your personal interests, concerns and vulnerability. If you can’t spend time with your team in person, here are a few alternatives for establishing connections:

    • Send a handwritten thank you note to a well-deserving employee.
    • Use videoconferencing tools like Zoom to have a virtual lunch or coffee break with a team member.
    • Call your staff unprompted to check in and see how they are doing.
  • Solicit employee feedback.
    What are your employees thinking? What are they concerned about? What’s going well in their jobs – and where do they need help? If you struggle to get candid feedback from your team, send an anonymous survey to: get a pulse on your workplace culture; identify hidden problems; and pinpoint opportunities for improvement. Once you gather and analyze feedback, use it for positive change. Explain exactly what you learned and how you plan to use the knowledge to make your workplace even better. Soliciting feedback and acting on it shows that you truly care about your people; caring builds trust.

Want more tips to become a better leader?

Keep an eye on our blog. In future posts, we will explore other characteristics of effective leadership and share actionable tips you can use to be a stronger leader in today’s workplace.

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