More and more companies today are realizing that employee trust is a key driver of operational success. With large bodies of recent research supporting the concept that employees who trust their leader, and the company that employs them, are more engaged, more productive, less absent, and more likely to stay loyal to their employer.
Earning, and maintaining, a trustworthy relationship with your employees (especially if you lead a large number of people) can seem daunting. But there is one thing that is undeniably clear, across all industries and all types of people:
Start here, and you’ll find increasing transparency with your employees, as a leader, is a low-cost, quick to implement strategy to impact your employee engagement, and as a result – your bottom line.
Here are 5 tips to build transparency that cost next to nothing, and which you can start today:
1. Start talking. The best place to start as a leader is to be the one who initiates conversation. Are you communicating with your employees on a consistent basis? This is particularly important in times of change or crisis – your employees don’t expect you to have all the answers or be able to speak freely about sensitive issues. But they do expect you to care enough to talk to them about what’s going on. Acknowledge gaps in information where they exist, without dancing around them, letting your employees know you’ll keep them informed as much as possible.
2. Listen more than you talk: Provide information and context up front, but then step back and let your employees take the lead. Enter conversations expecting they will have something to say, and be ready to engage with them. Remember that if open dialogue and transparency hasn’t been out front in your organization in the past, it will take time for your employees to feel comfortable sharing their voice. Help build that trust by providing opportunities for them to speak up, responding in a positive and appreciative way when they do, and asking leading questions to generate conversation. How do you feel about this? What questions do you have for me? Do you think this is the right approach? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share on how we can do this better? What is important for you to know right now?
3. Target your message to your audience: What is important for your employees to hear from you? Is the information you’re sharing with them valuable and targeted to what they need to hear? Don’t come at them with corporate jargon and circular messages – they want to know what does this mean for me?
4. Create opportunities for 2-way dialogue: Do your employees feel comfortable talking about what’s on their mind? Sharing their ideas? Asking questions? Have you put appropriate forums in place to facilitate this dialogue? Town halls (in person or video) and company chat forums are two great avenues for large scale communication, and in addition regular team and 1:1 check-ins with direct supervisors are important to allow for safe spaces for employees to voice their thoughts and opinions.
5. Don’t penalize those who speak up: Once you’ve put the above practices in place, do not impede progress by penalizing those who use these forums to ask questions or share their input. Send a message within the organization that this is a safe place for dialogue.
Employees today are looking for leaders and companies they can trust, and today’s employees are no longer satisfied with towing the company line, while being kept in the dark. This trend is not going away, and companies that don’t start prioritizing the employee relationship, may soon find themselves in a tricky situation.
Ps. We've got the expertise and resources to help you inspire your teams to get engaged, and bring their purpose to the table. Check it out at cultureco.ca/people.
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