Last week, I discussed the importance of building a relational culture. Today, I’m diving into the heart of what defines a quality relationship – trust. Employees who trust their manager are more engaged, more productive, and more connected at work. So how can you build this valuable component in your team?

Eye contact

It sounds simple, even elementary, but the importance of eye contact cannot be overstated when it comes to building trust. According to the British Psychological Society:

When it comes to deciding whether we trust another person, it turns out that it’s not only a question of how much eye contact they make, but also what we see in their eyes. Remarkably, it seems that we pay attention at a subconscious level to the behaviour of their pupils, and if they dilate – a sign of attraction and emotional arousal – we judge them to be more trustworthy, whereas if they constrict – a sign of fear or feeling threatened – then we judge them less trustworthy. Also, when we trust a partner with dilating pupils, our own pupils tend to mimic theirs and show similar dilation.”

Looking someone in the eye (for an appropriate length of time!) makes them feel validated. Oftentimes managers are so busy they blow past people or don’t look up from the computer screen when talking. Looking someone in the eye forces the conversation to slow down and encourages you both to read each other’s expressions to create a more productive conversation.

Get to know your employees outside of work

Do you know anything about your employees’ personal lives? I’m not suggesting you become nosy or strive to be best friends with your employees, but knowing more than just the tasks on their to-do list goes a long way in establishing a relational culture. Your employees are multifaceted people with interests, skills, and goals that might not come into play in their 9 to 5. Ask about their children, spouse, favorite activities outside of work, or ideal vacation spots. Take an interest in them as people – not just producers.

Be vulnerable, open, and transparent

If we can’t be vulnerable, open, and transparent, we become closed off. No one can see the real us. Popular speaker and psychologist Brené Brown shares about the power of vulnerability in her famous TEDx talk. Just because you’re in charge, it does not mean you have all the answers. Opening up to your employees builds trust in powerful ways. Share the challenges and obstacles you’re facing at work. Talk to your engaged and actively engaged players about how they can help you overcome these challenges. Invite them into your story. People want to help. Let them!

Key Takeaways

  • Build trust by creating a real relationship with your employees beyond the superficial. Get to know them personally.
  • Look your employees in the eye when you talk to them
  • Be authentic with others – they want to know the real you!