Workplace trust is hard earned but essential

Trust is essential in the workplaceTrust is a tough trait to control and manage. Often, people are reluctant to put their full trust in someone simply because they like to be in control of their actions. Other times, people spend months and years building up a rapport with someone only to find themselves exploited at the last minute, which completely breaks down whatever relationship they might have had.

But in most instances, when we do learn to trust one another properly, it can beneficial in relieving stress and boosting our confidence knowing that we have someone who is willing to listen or just ‘be there’ and take on additional responsibilities whenever we need.

Trust is also important in the workplace. It’s a vital part of teamwork and building relationships with colleagues, coming in handy when you have a trusting team to take care of your work when you’re away from the office. However, it seems that there is a level of insecurity and lack of trust amongst UK workplaces as Cornerstone discovered in a recent survey, which found that more than two-fifths (41 percent) of colleagues felt uneasy taking annual leave and handing over work to their colleagues.

So how can we learn to build trust with our colleagues? And how can trust be used to accelerate employees’ careers?


A two-way street

 To make trust work, in any sense, aligning with one another’s expectations is key and, in the workplace, when we go on annual leave especially, it’s important that expectations are clearly communicated amongst colleagues.

When managerial or senior personnel is away for a prolonged period of time and there are tasks to hand over, it is the responsibility of the manager to make the objectives clear from the outset, outline any potential scenarios that may arise during their time off and ensure that each colleague is comfortable with the additional responsibility and workload.

For employees, it’s their responsibility to highlight concerns and speak out about what they’re comfortable and not comfortable with before that person is due to be out of the office.

A short meeting with your colleague or team beforehand or a comprehensive handover email with clear instructions for each person can help delegate tasks and reassure that everyone is happy. If we can clearly and honestly communicate with our colleagues, then trust will soon accumulate.


Letting go to let colleagues grow

 Giving someone your full trust takes a lot. And for employees, it can be even more of a strain especially as a manager who is used to taking charge and being in control. But, handing over the reigns to your employees, even just for a few days, not only challenges them, it can also help to boost their confidence. Cornerstone’s research found that almost a third (32 percent) of employees felt that they learnt more by taking on a senior colleague’s workload in their absence whilst two-fifths of employees felt that their senior colleagues trust them to take on more responsibility.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Being proactive and reviewing roles and responsibilities in the team shows employees that they can be trusted[/perfectpullquote]

To put this into practice, look back at how workloads were managed this past summer. Ask employees if they learnt something new or whether they worked in a certain area they liked and want to continue learning in that area. Being proactive and reviewing roles and responsibilities in the team shows employees that they can be trusted to take on additional tasks whilst giving them the opportunity to grow in their career.

Whilst it seems like annual leave workloads almost force managers to put their full trust in their colleagues, it can also be refreshing. For the manager, handing over a specific task or project and having a fresh pair of eyes can provide a different perspective they may not have had before. Meanwhile, the employee is working on something totally different to their usual routine or remit, allowing them to build on their skills and further enhance their career.

Trusting colleagues to do our work and meet expectations can be difficult, especially if you’re setting high standards and those standards aren’t met. If we want to build a trusting workforce, we must first learn to trust ourselves to take a step back from time to time and let our colleagues take over – you never know the potential you might find in them.

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