We all want to feel respected and trusted at the workplace, just as we would among our families and friends. It’s human nature, after all. But you could also say that it’s human nature to be inherently skeptical – most of us don’t meet someone new, and immediately hand over a key to our house. Building trust and respect takes time.
As an employee, one of the more difficult parts of acclimating at a new job, or even to a new boss, is getting the trust-building process underway. Even for experienced workers, having a sense of trust between your coworkers and management isn’t easy to achieve, but there are ways that you can improve upon it – especially if you work remotely, are considering taking some time off (and play an integral role in your organization), or simply want to be known as someone who can be counted upon.
“Communicate effectively, in plain language, and make sure everyone understands what you’re trying to get across,” Eisenhauer told The Cheat Sheet. “The biggest thing in building trust is definitely communication.”
But there are other small things you can do, every day, to further cement yourself as a trustworthy member of the team.
“Do what you say you’re going to do. Make sure you have people’s backs if they need help,” Eisenhauer said. And it’s pretty easy to tell who isn’t trustworthy, by simply observing a couple of behaviors. “If they don’t get things done, if they don’t reply to emails and other communications – if they disengage and are not productive. You can tell who’s disengaged. You can tell who’s not getting things done. I think all of these business problems are all about communication.”
Expanding on that notion, Eisenhauer says these issues stem into our personal lives as well. “Communication is not just a business problem. It’s a human problem,” citing communication as one of the primary reasons personal relationships hit turbulent patches, in addition to business issues.
Eisenhauer provided us with his five tips for effectively building trust between management and employees. These are especially hand for folks who are integral to an organization’s functionality, yet plan on being away for the holidays, or vacation. If you truly want your boss to trust you, take these five tips into account, and start working on becoming an irreplaceable member of your office’s ‘inner circle’.
1. Prove yourself while on the clock
The very first step toward garnering management’s trust, particularly when you’re off the clock, starts while you’re in the office (“Is Tom going to show up to work hungover tomorrow? Do I need to plan for a drop in productivity?”). As we mentioned before, it can be as simple as taking care of your responsibilities, communicating effectively, and making sure you have the backs of your coworkers.
“If you want your boss to trust you while you’re off the clock, work on gaining your boss’ trust while on the clock. I think that’s the most important thing,” Eisenhauer said.
The next step, if you plan on being away from the office, is to effectively cover your ass.
“When you do leave, and there’s work to be done, delegate it. Make sure that people on your team, or in your department know how to do those jobs, and make sure that they’re clear on the responsibilities,” Eisenhauer said.
Simple enough – the less cleanup you leave for your boss to deal with, the more they’re going to trust you. And that might mean more flexible work arrangements, or more vacation time down the line.
3. Make sure the boss is comfortable
“Check in with your boss. Make sure that you’ve covered everything that they’ll need while you’re gone,” Eisenhauer says.
This jumps off of the previous point quite nicely. Make sure your supervisor or manager is on the same page as you are, and knows how to get in touch if need be. They’ll appreciate it, especially if you hold a fairly important position within the organization.
4. Maintain contact
Yes, part of the point of taking a vacation, or enjoying the holidays, is to get away from it all. But sometimes, you’re needed. Again – it really depends on your role within the company. If you’re important, people may need you. Leave channels open for communication.
“Everyone’s checking email. If there are any urgent emails that pop up – that only you can answer, or if they require your attention – reply to them. It only takes a couple minutes,” Eisenhauer said.
5. Make yourself available
Leapfrogging off of the previous point, you need to make yourself available. Leave the communication channels open, and make sure people are comfortable contacting you if they need you. This can suck if you’re on vacation, but it’s something some people need to do if they’re enthralled in the trust-building process.
“Communicate with people. Make sure there are avenues open, and that people have your phone number, and that they can shoot you a text,” Eisenhauer suggests.
And if that gets abused? You may need to lay down some ground rules, and engage in a trust-building session with coworkers. “You’ll have to trust people to not be contacting you all the time, if you’re on holiday or vacation,” he said.