You’ve noticed a change in your staff. They aren’t as productive, everyone is stressed, innovation is stifled, and it takes forever to make a decision. It may be that your small business might be experiencing low levels of trust. As a result, employees communicate less to each other (and to you) about issues in the workplace. That makes it harder to resolve problems. Here are some ways you can build your team’s trust levels so your business can operate at full strength.
Fear of the unknown can fuel mistrust. So it’s important for business owners to communicate regularly with their staff. Let them know in advance about upcoming changes, events and promotions. It gives you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns they might have, and it will increase the likelihood of success. People like to be “in the know” and it demonstrates trust when you let them in on your plans.
Involve your staff in problem solving. People like to be asked their opinion. It’s a great way to show employees that they are valued and also gives them some control over their own destiny. And who knows? They may have a great idea that you would never have thought of on your own. Remember to provide these opportunities both individually and in a team session. Some staff members might not contribute in a group setting but would willingly volunteer feedback if you asked them one-on-one.
Set a good example by being honest when you communicate with staff. Avoid “just between you and me” conversations. Employees may wonder what other confidential discussions you may be having with their coworkers. Remember that honesty applies to non-verbal communication too. Use comfortable eye contact and avoid crossing arms or leaning away when speaking with employees.
Employees want to know if they’re doing a good job. Part of that is knowing what’s expected, especially when your business is going through rapid change. Clarifying expectations empowers staff to trust in their own performance or to make adjustments so they are up to snuff. It also clarifies their work relationships with other employees. Learning how all the parts fit together helps them avoid role conflict with other staff members.
In soccer, you have to know which goal post is yours in order to score. A shared goal points the team in the right direction. The same is true in your business. Establish goals that only a team can reach. For example, no more than three customers can be in the wait queue at one time. To achieve the goal, employees have to trust each other and work together.
Low levels of trust can reduce productivity, causing your employees to concentrate on their own individual goals rather than focusing on the goals you’ve set for your business. Consider these ideas to help turn it around and steer your small business back to full strength.