How to Build Trust in a Hybrid Work Situation

Remote and hybrid work is going to be the new reality for many organizations. Its effectiveness will require mutual trust, transparency, and open communication between managers and their employees.

According to Drs. Michelle and Dennis Reina, there are three critical areas of trust: trust of character, trust of communication, and trust of capability. Let’s consider each in turn and identify the action steps that managers will need to take to build and maintain trust.

Trust of Character

This trust is developed when managers and employees do what they say they will do, proving that they are reliable.

Management Action Steps:  Model follow-through and hold employees accountable for following-through on their commitments and responsibilities. Set realistic expectations and ensure that employees have sufficient training and decision-making authority to meet those expectations. Conduct frequent check-ins with employees to discuss their progress and any challenges they have. Employees should feel comfortable initiating these conversations if they run into difficulties.

Trust of Communication

This trust is developed when managers and employees engage in open and honest communication to share information as well as to work through issues and offer constructive feedback.

Management Action Steps: Be hyper aware of the need to communicate at the same time with office and remote workers. Communication needs to be frequent, clear, and comprehensive, including regular check-ins with employees. Create a psychologically safe environment where employees are encouraged to speak up when there are issues, without fear of recrimination. Employees need to know that their manager will respond in a timely fashion.

Trust of Capability

This trust is developed when managers and employees recognize and utilize the skills and abilities of each other, seek each other’s input, involve everyone in decision making, and take the time to teach each other new skills.

Management Action Steps: Build cooperative and collaborative relationships with employees and delegate new responsibilities democratically so that all employees have an opportunity to learn and grow. Recognize that the quality of decisions and their acceptance by their employees depend upon involving them in some part of the decision-making process. Employees need to see that their input is expected, respected, and valued.

Managers who expend the time and effort to achieve trusts of character, communication, and capability will reap the reward of a well performing workforce, regardless of where their employees work.

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, what is the level of mutual trust in your organization?

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