7 Ways to Build Collaboration and Trust into your Culture
7 Ways to Build Collaboration and Trust into your Culture

Creating a collaborative, trusting work environment is key to success.

Do you want to build trust and cooperation in your organization? Then walk the talk. It may sound simple, but it’s one of the most effective ways to build trust internally and get people to support your vision.

In my experience as a change instigator and consultant, there are certain things that all leaders must do and a number of critical moments where you can implement impactful change and build trust.

Trust starts with leadership and filters down. It is the cement that binds people together who have similar shared values but with different talents, skills and interests. One of the most important ways to build trust is to ensure that people have a shared/common set of values. When you share the same values, you inherently are more likely to trust them and they are more likely to trust you.

Trust is earned when your team believes you will do what is right, deliver what you promise and are consistent with your leadership approach -- regardless of what is easy or convenient.

As stated in How to Build Your Organizational Culture Based on Trust and Collaboration, “Real trust exists when your team believes you are going to do what you say you will do. Leaders cannot just provide lip service and make false promises in an attempt to motivate and boost performance. If you don’t follow through, your team will lose faith in your word, but also your leadership and the values, vision, and mission of the organization. This will lead to lower levels of engagement.”

Here are 7 ways you can build trust within your organization:

  1. Be the first to show trust: For one person to trust another -- whether that person is the CEO or a frontline team member -- that person needs to believe that the other has their best interests at heart. To be a trusted leader you have to demonstrate that you’re there to help others succeed.
  2. Practice self-disclosure: Self-disclosure is another important action. Opening up builds closer relationships. Trusted leaders also show concern for others. You have to listen, and respect alternative views. Admit what you don’t know and openly communicate with your team.
  3. Give credit to others: No one likes a glory hog, especially one that takes credit for the hard work of others. Rarely are successes achieved as a result of individual effort, there is usually collaboration -- so be sure to share the spotlight with those deserving and celebrate organizational successes as a team.
  4. Walk the talk: Many leaders can talk a good game, but when troubles arise only truly transformational leaders step up. They reinforce company culture and values daily and understand that it’s critical to build trust consistently through their actions. Model the behavior you want others to follow. When your team sees you leading by example, they will follow suit and be more open to buying in. You lead by example by treating promises seriously, following through on commitments, and behaving consistently with your values.
  5. Hold yourself accountable first: When things go wrong, many people have a tendency to look elsewhere to blame and fail to take ownership for their own shortcomings. As a leader, you need to hold yourself accountable first before you can hold others accountable. When you hold people accountable for their actions, including yourself, you will earn your team’s trust and respect.
  6. Deliver what you promise: Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Be upfront and honest with your team and refrain from making promises that you know you cannot deliver on -- it will only hurt morale and cause your team to question your motives.
  7. Listen: You can build trust and increase collaboration in your culture when you are willing to listen. Admit what you don’t know and be open to new ideas, perspectives and approaches. Often, the act of listening alone will help you build trust with your team.

Knowing that you can trust your team to get the job done is essential. However, they will not trust you unless they know you are willing to follow through on your commitments and have their back. Mutual trust plays a large role in shaping an organizational culture that will thrive

Trust, much like organizational culture, is not built overnight. You need to earn it. Building an organizational culture is deeply rooted in trust, and collaboration starts with strong leadership that is willing to follow through, lead by example and walk the talk to create lasting and impactful organizational change. Leaders that personally role model trust virtues (e.g. honesty, reliability, discretion and focus on others ahead of themselves) and lead from trust values (e.g. relationship rather than transaction focus, collaboration, and transparency) create a strong work environment.

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