3 Ways Leaders Build Trust to Increase Employee Engagement

a word map centered around collaboration

Without a foundation of trust and mutual respect, teams avoid healthy conflict, have less accountability, and tend to underperform.

Together, this pushes employees toward disengagement.

A lack of trust undermines a team’s performance…rather than work collaboratively, team members set up silos and work on their own, often at cross purposes and certainly less efficiently. They don’t share information, they may get into disputes over roles and responsibilities, and they don’t cooperate. Any potential synergies or economies of scale are lost.

No matter how talented individual team members may be, a team without foundational trust will never reach its full potential. Rather than working together to achieve team goals, individuals are likely to work on protecting themselves and their own interests. Instead you want a trusting environment where employees feel safe to communicate openly, feel comfortable with one another and take reasonable risks in order to learn, grow and perform.

Some years ago our team at LSA embarked on an Outward Bound California outdoor experiential team building program. What started as a fun way to hang out together, quickly turned into salient lessons about trust, problem solving, communication, decision making and leadership. To succeed at our challenges, members had to really trust one another to walk through the obstacles safely and to cooperate in understanding and meeting the goals of the exercises. Though overall we did well, our debrief of the program exposed some weaknesses in our team dynamic. Some members realized they did not fully trust others. They learned that their micro-managing was a sign of doubt that teammates had the skills and the will to do the job “right.” Back at the workplace, we resolved to work on these issues. It was apparent in a very short time how much more efficiently we were able to get things done when trust was increased “just a little bit.” Productivity improved as did engagement. We all were striving together toward a common goal with higher levels of mutual trust as our foundation.

Can you fix a team that is suffering from a lack of trust? Yes, if the team leader is truly committed to improving the team environment. Here is how to begin based upon three employee engagement training best practices:

  1. Set the example
    Clearly define and agree upon goals, roles, responsibilities, processes and success metrics. Ensure full understanding of and commitment to expectations and then let the team work to fulfill them without your hovering. Show your trust in their abilities by allowing them to make small mistakes so they learn and grow from them. The best leaders choose the right players and then trust them to do their job well while “having their back.”
  2. Show you care
    Get to know your team as individuals. Learn what makes them tick and what excites them about life and the job. What do they like to do when they are not at work? Be authentically curious and listen well. Your genuine interest in both their personal and professional lives will help connect you and build links of trust while you help them to achieve their personal and professional aspirations.
  3. Show your competence
    This does not mean that you show your power. Instead it is more about being humble. Don’t pretend to have all the answers. Ask for help from your teammates when you need it. Always treat them fairly and with honesty. Share as much information about the business’ plan for the future. This is the way to show that you value their contribution and that you trust them to act in the best interests of the team and the organization.

Benchmark your employee engagement practices now

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Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

We consider LSA our true business partner in the areas of Learning and Organizational Development. From Strategic Planning to Presentation Skills and Management Training, they continue to provide excellent value and extremely high quality solutions – not just one time events. I recommend them to anyone looking to drive true business results.

Michelle A. Mitchell
Vice President, Worldwide Human Resources

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

We have worked with LSA Global for our learning and development needs and have always had great success. They helped us recently with customized Management Workshops that we held for the second time. It was fantastic, and I would highly recommend LSA to anyone that is attempting to get immediate and impactful improvements.

Mary Johnston
HR Manager, BU Radiology Informatics

Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.

Frank Abbott
Chief Financial Officer

I have worked with other training companies and found it to be more of a seller/buyer relationship than one of matching the right expertise to our business issues. That’s what LSA does – ask the hard questions, listen, and understand our business needs. We receive the benefit of their expertise from assistance with personal development plans to enhancing team performance, to looking at enterprise-wide challenges. It’s all about helping our business succeed as we grow. Right now, LSA is providing great ideas, a fresh approach, and valuable guidance as we develop our management team and accelerate our client relationship management results.

Kristin Westland-Kaune
Director, Team Development

The refreshing thing about LSA is that they focus on understanding our business situation and helping me succeed instead of selling a product. With over 150 experts, they are an invaluable resource that helps me deliver higher quality results faster. I recommend them to anyone looking to improve the performance of their workforce.

Stacie Rodgers
VP of Human Resources

Cutera

We recently contacted LSA Global to assist us with a unique training request. We gave LSA a very short deadline and LSA custom designed a training program to meet our exact requirements within the limited time allotted to them. We found their facilitator to be well versed in the subject matter and very credible; the design provided practical and valuable information to our team of managers. I highly recommend LSA Global, particularly in the area of management training.

Julaine K. Souza
Senior Vice President

LSA helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

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