Feb 08 2021| Leadership | trust
Creating a Culture of Trust - Tactics Part One
by Phil Eyre Founder
In the first of a series of articles about creating trust in the workplace, Phil Eyre discusses the importance of transparency.
If you’ve been told something that doesn’t quite add up or have been excluded from important information you will know how crucial transparency is to trust. Trustworthy leaders are transparent and honest about the purpose of any initiative, being candid and free of pretense.
Here are a few tactics to consider:
Make the purpose clear
- Consistently communicate the purpose of the initiative and how it fits with the purpose of the business. Address the unspoken question, ‘What’s the point of this?’ Use multiple channels and formats; don’t presume that your email has been read properly; it almost certainly hasn’t.
- If you are targets-orientated, make extra effort to consider the importance of team roles when communicating purpose.
- If you are detail-oriented, choose to communicate a small number of key points rather than everything.
- If you are people-orientated, make an effort to include measures when articulating your objectives.
- Include the purpose of the meeting in every meeting invite. This isn’t what the meeting is called (for example, monthly managers’ meeting). It should be what you want this meeting to achieve (for example, bring all managers up to speed with our top three issues, invite perspectives and allocate actions to solve them).
- Just tell people; town halls can be great, but you don’t always need an event to bring people into the loop.
Share your reasons
- Give genuine reasons for your decisions. Tell the truth, don’t spin the truth to become something you believe is more palatable; everyone sees straight through that.
- If you can’t share all the reasons, don’t invent reasons. It’s better to say nothing than invent something false.
- Because ‘I told you so’ isn’t a reason.
- Remember that you understand the bigger picture; don’t assume they know what you’re thinking or what you’ve learned so far. Be patient as they catch up with you.
- Make your agenda clear from the outset if you want people to trust you. No-one likes to be maneuvered into an unforeseen position. It’s remarkable how quickly trust evaporates when we realise we’ve been unwittingly subject to someone’s hidden agenda.
- When there’s a problem, speak with people, not about them.
- In-person (including phone or video call) beats email every single time. Make the call.
- Give praise when it’s due.
Telling the truth even when the news is bad
- Don’t delegate giving bad news. This is your job and its part of the privilege of leadership.
- Be clear AND kind (see our next article). Make your decision with high-conviction and implement it with compassion.
- Trying to make bad news sound nice is like putting whipped cream on brussels sprouts*. Don’t let the fear of their negative response detract from telling the truth, kindly.
- If you have bad news to give, schedule the conversation rather than leaving it “to when it feels right”; it will never feel right, and the delay simply escalates the tension.
- Use examples to clarify. In 99% of situations, examples are examples, not evidence. Present examples to illustrate what you mean, not to “out” them.
- Avoid spurious excuses. For example, Covid-19 has undoubtedly affected some businesses, but it’s not the sole reason for some of our problems. If sales have fallen because your product is faulty, don’t blame Covid.
- Don’t feign powerlessness, ‘I had no choice.’ Own the problem and point to your plan for implementation and improvement.
What else can you do to enhance your transparency?
*unless you love brussels sprouts in which case insert any food you detest here.