21 Sep Three Ways To Cultivate A High-Trust Culture In A Remote Workforce
There are unique challenges associated with leading remote teams, and building trusted relationships is unquestionably at the top of that list. It’s crucial for leaders to earn their team members’ trust — but when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible, they must find new ways to engage and connect to develop that critical foundation.
Seminal research conducted by the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies found that at high-trust companies, 74% of employees experienced less stress, along with 106% more energy at work and 50% higher productivity. Companies also saw 76% more engagement and 40% less burnout.
These compelling statistics should be more than enough motivation for leaders to build a culture of trust. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Promote transparency and communication.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Amy Jen Su, co-founder and managing partner of executive coaching firm Paravis Partners, emphasized the importance of breaking down silos. “Remind people who they are part of a larger collective by creating shared team goals and connecting them to the bigger picture,” she wrote. “Explain how each person’s work influences the performance of the larger organization.”
This is especially important with a remote working model. Now more than ever, frequent communication is critical if you want to earn and retain your team’s trust.
Start by scheduling regular check-ins. Conduct these over video whenever possible to re-create the face-to-face experience. During this time of upheaval, you may need to increase the frequency of these kinds of conversations to make sure your team is in a good place both emotionally and in terms of managing their workload.
Prioritize one-on-one conversations that allow you to emphasize each employee’s importance to the team, and encourage them to be honest about how they’re faring. This can be achieved by sharing your personal experiences and strategies for coping, highlighting any employee wellness programs currently offered by your organization and offering your staff some additional time off. You might also consider acknowledging your employees’ hard work by sending lunch, flowers or another meaningful token to their home.
Lead by example.
It stands to reason that in a remote working situation, leaders must set the tone for their team’s virtual work culture. Employees will look to you for the specifics of how to navigate technology and collaboration in the context of their current job.
It’s helpful to establish guidelines for video and chat interactions by showing rather than telling your employees how to engage in these new forums. Also, be sensitive to people’s home lives by noting and accommodating, where possible, your team’s new availability.
Perhaps the most important strategy when your aim is to promote trust in the workplace is to remain genuine and relatable. Serving as a model for your workforce includes showing compassion, admitting your mistakes and adjusting to accommodate changing dynamics as they emerge. Friendly, approachable leaders are more likely to inspire loyalty, so go out of your way to show your team who you are and that you care.
Reassess your recruitment strategy.
It’s important to note that developing a high-trust culture begins during the recruitment process. Keep your recruitment and onboarding activities highly engaging and on brand so employees know what to expect from your company from the start.
As you welcome new hires to your team, remember that some remote workforces started on-site and transitioned to remote, whereas others were remote workers long before the pandemic. Understanding your team members’ level of experience and comfort with this way of working will ensure that you manage and support them accordingly.
The idea of establishing and maintaining trusted relationships with your team members while working from home may feel daunting at first, but by listening to and observing your team’s feedback and behaviors, making small commitments and following through, and knowing that team members can depend on each other, leaders can establish remarkably strong and trusted connections despite being physically distanced.