Making Work, Work

Fostering Trust in Management

As the nature of our working offices changes, office workers, remote workers, flexible workers, and those that do a bit of all those things are all part of the company structure. This means that, more than ever, trust and support is a vital component of good management.

Trust leads to higher morale and loyalty throughout the organisation. Trust in colleagues is a key part of a collaborative, productive and positive working culture: it is the foundation of leadership and management. Managers need to trust their employees to have the integrity to do the work with minimal direct supervision, particularly if flexible working is to flourish.

Any manager who wants to foster trust will find it fairly easy to assess the integrity of long term and permanent members of staff. It can be more difficult when using temporary, remote or freelance workers on a project-by-project basis to afford them the same independence. Consultants may find themselves dealing with two extremes of a lack of trust in management: a.) being left alone too much as the manager is reluctant to bring them in to the inner workings of the business, leaving them unable to see their role in the broader context of the business, or b.) having to deal with micromanagement, slowing down their work with unnecessary reviews, meetings, being unable to take responsibility for tasks and relying on the input of the manager. It’s easy to see how this can impair the performance of both sides in either scenario. A lack of delegation and communication will inevitably lead to mutual mistrust of each other’s capabilities and ability to work together to achieve overall goals.

Having access to a high quality pool of independent talent who can be part of the business in all senses can help alleviate worries when bringing in contract or freelance consultants. Using a network of experienced legal talent, many of whom have worked for many years within practices and in legal services, means the consultant can be vouched for and has a proven record of working independently, working to understand the long term needs of clients beyond their own role.

Creating a culture of trust

Trust, as they say, is something to be earned – but it is also something to be learned. In business, trust can be thought of as a vital skill that must be built on throughout the working relationship. It ebbs and flows, but it must always be nurtured and checked. Building trust in work is no different to doing so in other relationships. It’s important to:

Be authentic

You don’t have to share details of your life you may not be comfortable with, but it does help to connect with those you work with on more than a professional level. Talking about family, office anecdotes, sharing opinions offers a window to the self that is behind the work, all those things help you feel more comfortable within the circle and allow others to feel more comfortable around you too.

Find common ground in your work

Offering a sense of who you are can help see where common goals lie. If a manager sees you have a shared level of drive and motivation to achieve something, even if it is in a different way of working to what they may be used to, mutual trust is more likely to be established.

Have regular, honest communication

Regular communication doesn’t have to mean checking up on an individual or micromanagement, but you should be updating one another on project progress and any relevant additional information, offering the opportunity for queries or requests. Providing those opportunities allows the other person to be more open about any potential problems or concerns as and when they arise, rather than feeling that they don’t know how to approach the issue with the other person.

As Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Trusted employees feel more valued and are more productive, and trusting managers will have more time on their hands to concentrate on the bigger picture.

By Kayleigh Ziolo

Kayleigh Ziolo has a background in magazine publishing and is writer and Commissioning Editor at Obelisk. She specialises in the subjects of workplace wellbeing, flexible working practices and gender equality.