Office politics! Gossip! Toxic environment! We all have our fair share of office horror stories that we have personally experienced. But did you know that these issues can be resolved if there is a strong culture of trust within the company? Without trust as the bedrock of the company, other issues like high turnover rates and low work morale will arise. Since we spend about a third of our day at work, can you imagine how such a toxic environment will affect our mental health? Trust begins with you, yet it does not happen overnight. So let’s start cultivating good habits and gain the trust of our colleagues.
Remember this golden rule: Be transparent when relationships are involved. Be it in a friendship or a work relationship, no one likes to be kept in the dark. It is common for us to withhold the bad news because we think that we can solve the issue by ourselves. Neither do we want to create unnecessary stress and worry for our colleagues. But remember this – your company is a team and you would need to work together to solve the issue. It is hard to break bad news (even I struggle with this at times!) since no one likes bad news. However, it is better to inform your colleagues rather than to have uncertainty and rumours floating around. Your company runs the risk of reputational damage when these rumours get out of hand.
Give Everyone A Voice
How would you feel if no one paid attention to the presentation that you have put so much effort to? Or even worse, colleagues are interrupting you and scoffing at your ideas. Let’s face it. As much as we would like to deny that we do not need the validation of others, our self-esteem is very much tied to how we are treated. We are empowered to speak up and contribute when our ideas are validated and vice-versa. Treat your colleagues with respect and give them a chance to speak. After all, communication is a two-way street and projects can only be improved when constructive feedback is given. Also, be mindful of your expressions. Our body language and facial expressions can give away our thoughts even if we do not voice them out.
Take Ownership of Your Work
Don’t be that colleague who takes the credit for someone else’s work and pushes the blame whenever problems arise. I’m sure we all want to look good in front of our bosses, but taking credit that is not yours’ can create a toxic work environment. Colleagues would be unwilling to share ideas and knowledge and everyone works in silos. Gain your colleagues’ trust by being a steadfast worker. Show that you are competent and dependable by keeping to deadlines and delivering quality work. The last thing you want to be known for is someone who over promises and under delivers.
Trust Your Colleagues
The simplest way to gain the trust of your colleagues is to establish a culture of trust through your actions. Chances are, they will reciprocate the trust and demonstrate their competence without your meddling. This is especially important when you are looking to or are already in leadership positions. We all dislike bosses who hover over our shoulders or micromanage, yet many of us make this mistake when we are in leadership positions. However, this does not mean that you let your employees do whatever they want. Your role as the leader is to guide them towards a common goal. Divide the tasks among your colleagues and specify each of their roles. More importantly, trust them to get the job done.
Know Your Colleagues
Have you ever attended unproductive meetings that are met with awkward silences? Did you feel the need to take the lead and drive the meeting since there is little communication in your team? That’s because there is not enough trust in the workplace! People tend to be more outspoken and vulnerable to those that they trust. Your colleagues would rather keep mum during the meetings rather than to be mocked or dismissed because of their ideas. So, if you want more constructive meetings, get to know your colleagues personally. Your colleagues are also human beings with life outside of work, so show that you care about them as a friend and get to know them outside of work. Not sure where to start? Begin by socializing during lunch!
What does trust mean to you? Have you encountered such instances in the workplace or are you guilty of not trusting your colleagues? As projects become more integrated and multi-departmental, gone are the days you embark on a project alone. So which will you decide? Will you complain about the toxic work culture or will you change your work environment? The key to transforming your workplace culture begins with you.