How many times have you heard this line in a movie: “I don’t know if I can trust you…”?

The line always comes at a pivotal moment. If there isn’t any trust, then the love affair, caper, or escape won’t happen.

It teaches a good lesson: For important plans to be successful, there must be trust. This is true for small businesses and we see it in big ways and in smaller ways. For example, many small business owners don’t have enough trust in their employees to feel comfortable going away on vacation.

Let’s look at 10 principles and behaviors that will build trust between yourself and your core team.

  1. Trust is a two-way relationship. The feeling of trust must be mutual. This principle sets the stage for the following guidelines for how you work with your team. And, because trust is a two-way relationship, these guidelines also define the kind of on-the-job behavior you need to instill in your employees.
  2. Don’t compromise your values. You set the moral tone in your business. Don’t let your moral values slide. If you do, it’s a clear signal to your team that they can cut corners and not have to worry about their integrity.
  3. Don’t be a hypocrite. Trust is built on relationships where one’s actions and words are in harmony with each other. The quickest way to break someone’s trust is to say one thing and then turn around and do something else.
  4. Hire for values and character. Technical skills can be overrated. Prisons are full of criminals who are very proficient technically. You can teach skills. By the time men and women are adults, it’s virtually impossible to teach character and values.
  5. Give employees a good helping of freedom and self-determination. Let employees try their own ideas. Don’t criticize them if the ideas don’t work out and don’t start with a negative comment like, “You can try it if you want to, but I don’t think it will work.” Praise them for taking initiative. Doing this puts a “trust deposit” in your employee-relationship bank account.
  6. Don’t gossip. Loose lips sink ships. Much damage can be done with careless talk and gossip is a very common problem in the workplace. Don’t do it. And, as with the other points here, be certain your employees know your opinion and prohibition on workplace gossip. If negative gossip is already a problem in your business, check out this Forbes article by Lisa Quast that gives you five tips.
  7. Be a listener. You need to hear, understand, and process what your employees are saying before you can make a good reply or response. Don’t talk over people at meetings. Listening is a skill you need to develop.
  8. Resolve problems. If there is a problem between you and an employee, or between two employees, don’t let it fester. It will only get worse.
  9. Don’t hold onto anger or grudges. This is similar to the last point, but with a slight twist. Sometimes things happen in the workplace that merely annoy us, and frankly, sometimes it’s our attitudes that allow us to get annoyed in the first place. For a very small infraction, just let it go—completely. Forgive and  You unintentionally rub people the wrong way too occasionally, I’m sure.
  10. Be honest, but not hurtful. When you need to straighten things out with others on your team, be sure you have clarity when you bring up the subject. There are ways to be honest without inflicting additional pain on the individual. Think about the best approach to take. Don’t chastise someone in haste.

For many of us, we spend as much time—if not more—with our work “families” than we do with our real families. Trust is critical for success and satisfaction. If you consistently model trust and the behaviors that support trust, it will be returned to you.

SOURCESusan Solovic
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Susan Solovic
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning serial entrepreneur, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com and USA Today bestselling author, and attorney. She was the CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com—small business television—a company she grew from its infancy to a million dollar plus entity. She appears regularly as a featured expert on Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and can be seen currently as a small business expert on the AT&T Networking Exchange website. Susan is a member of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College and the Advisory Boards for the John Cook School of Entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University as well as the Fishman School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia College. 

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