Can you trust your employees? Can they trust you? Can they trust each other?

If you can truthfully answer each of those questions with a “yes”, I’m willing to bet that you’re going to be successful.

Trust is a critical component of every effective team and every organization, but it’s rare in the world of business today. How can you create a culture of honesty in your business?  Here are three ideas:

  1. Promote open communication- even when it’s hard.  An honest culture is not necessarily peaceful and happy all of the time.  Whether your employees are honest or not, they are still going to have problems with each other and with management from time to time.  Encourage your employees to speak their minds, respectfully and constructively, of course.  When employees feel that their co-workers and their managers will listen to their opinions, honesty becomes second nature.

  1. Create alignment of your goals with the goals of your employees.  Dishonesty happens when employees and managers have different objectives.  If your primary goal is to make lots of money every day, and your employees’ primary goal is to get out of the office early, open and forthright communication simply will not happen.  Articulate your goals, and give your employees reason to buy in to your mission.  When you and your team are working for the same goals, honesty happens naturally.

  1. Set the example.  As usual, the onus is on you as the business owner to set the tone.  By providing honest feedback to your team, and by communicating openly with them even if the news is bad, you will inspire them to do the same.  On the other hand, if you are only honest when it suits your purposes, do not expect any more than that from your team.

Trust is a big deal. Teams that trust their leaders and trust each other are willing to take risks, willing to innovate, willing to try new things. If that trust doesn’t exist, employees are more likely to cover their own butts than they are to think outside the box. When there’s no trust in your organization, you’re not as effective. That’s the bottom line.

Is honesty part of the culture in your business? Do you agree that honesty is a critical ingredient of a strong organization? Why or why not?