By Peter DeMarco | June 26, 2019

For an organization to function, trust must exist. Without trust, human beings (individuals and organizations) seize up and become paralyzed by suspicion, doubts, fear and uncertainty.

You are not a therapist, so don’t feel pressure to act like one. Instead, focus on building trust as the foundation for establishing greater harmony within the group. The absence of conflict is not the same as the presence of trust. Real organizational harmony is achieved when positive tensions exist, but individuals are able to work through their differences and disagreements.

Here are some tips for building trust:

1. Role model

Encourage team members to be open-minded and mature. Demonstrate the behaviors required of the head of a successful organization. Treat your people as equals but demonstrate your superiority in conduct and caring. Results come from showing your team the way to success.

2. Restore fairness

Some businesses can become hotbeds of nepotism and favoritism. Few things undermine employee commitment to the organization’s goals more than when they see another employee elevated at the expense of someone more deserving. To the extent possible, treat each employee with professionalism and make your decisions on facts alone.

3. Remove problem employees

You can’t change company dynamics overnight, but you can draw clear boundaries around conduct that will and won’t be tolerated. Unfortunately, some employees will simply nor adhere to such boundaries and are therefore detrimental to the organization. Your job is to first identify and isolate these individuals before they do any more damage. Rebuilding trust within an organization cannot occur until employees understand that the leaders are looking out for the greater good of the group.

4. Redefine forgiveness

Forgiveness must be a free choice, not an obligation. Too often, society pushes a false view of forgiveness, calling for offenses to be forgotten before fairness has been restored. Such a view fails to appreciate the pain and harm done to the injured. Closure is difficult to find when offenders will not accept responsibility for their actions. In these situations, recall the wisdom of Augustine of Hippo, who said forgiveness really means surrendering our desire for revenge, especially when the offender is obstinate and blind to their fault.

5. Regulate pace

Actions are the real barometer of trust. Words must be measured and deliberate. Rebuilding trust is often an incremental process, which must be done slowly and carefully. Execution is the best way to set the pace and foster enthusiasm.

6. Request professional help

Conflict avoidance exists in many organizations. The lack of healthy confrontations may require external facilitation and objectivity. Consider bringing in a professional leadership consultant to help provide the tools for having healthy confrontations. True professionals work from the outside in, observing the conduct and language, and helping to reframe perspectives.

Remember, trust is built on effort and secured on results. If you can be consistent, fair, and attentive to problems, others will take notice and be encouraged to resolve their own issues.