5 Ways to Build Trust in Times of Crisis

In the world of business, crises are inevitable. Whether it’s a global pandemic, economic downturn, or internal turmoil, how leaders navigate these challenging times can make or break the trust within their organisations. Crises often amplify uncertainty and fear, making trust-building behaviours even more crucial for maintaining stability and encouraging resilience.

The Importance of Trust

Trust forms the bedrock of any successful organisation, serving as the cornerstone of strong relationships, effective collaboration, and organisational resilience. In times of crisis, trust becomes even more critical. When leaders prioritise trust-building behaviour, they lay the foundation for greater cohesion, innovation, and adaptability within their teams and organisations.

Strategies for Building Trust in Times of Crisis

Here are 5 ways leaders can navigate crises to create a culture of trust that endures even in the face of uncertainty.

  1. Show Empathy

Understand and acknowledge the heightened stress and anxiety felt by team members. Actively listen to their concerns and offer support. Empathy fosters stronger connections, builds trust, and enables teams to weather adversity with resilience and solidarity

  • Be Adaptable

Leaders must be agile and flexible in rapidly evolving situations. Make swift decisions, pivot strategies, and navigate uncertainty with confidence. Demonstrating adaptability inspires confidence in leadership’s ability to overcome challenges.

  • Be Transparent

Open and honest communication is key during times of crisis. Provide timely updates, acknowledge uncertainties, and offer clear guidance. By embracing transparency, leaders demonstrate integrity, build credibility, and foster an environment where open dialogue and collaboration thrive.

  • Be Authentic

Stay true to values, principles, and beliefs, even in adversity. Show vulnerability, admit mistakes, and share personal challenges. Authentic leadership builds trust, inspires confidence, and cultivates a culture of honesty, integrity, and mutual respect.

  •  Lead by Example

Actions speak louder than words in times of crisis. Leaders must embody the values and principles they espouse. By demonstrating integrity, resilience, and empathy in their actions, leaders inspire trust and confidence within their teams.

Effective leadership during times of crisis is essential for strengthening trust. By prioritising transparency, empathy, adaptability, authenticity, and leading by example, leaders can navigate challenges, inspire confidence, and foster a culture of trust that endures even in the face of uncertainty.

The fact is crises will always arise. It’s the nature of business. However, the lessons learned from adversity can serve as guiding principles for leaders committed to building trust and ensuring lasting success within their teams and organisations.

How to Cultivate Trust for a High-Performing Team 

As South Africans, our next election period is on our doorstep and with that, big decisions to make as to where one vests your trust, which party gets your vote. What is leadership, without trust and what does trust mean to you? Great leadership, at any level, hinges on trust.

Trust on a macro level is as important as trust within our organisations. Imagine a workplace where every step feels like tiptoeing through a minefield. Every decision you make is met with scepticism, and every interaction is clouded by doubt. Your team members second-guess your motives, and collaboration feels more like a battle of egos than a unified effort toward a common goal. This is the reality for many individuals working in environments without trust. 

Now, take a moment to reflect on your own team or organisation. Do you feel a sense of openness, collaboration, and mutual respect? Or do you sense an undercurrent of tension and uncertainty? If you find yourself leaning toward the latter, you are not alone. In today’s fast-paced and competitive business world, trust is often the casualty of high-pressure environments, conflicting priorities, and interpersonal dynamics.

But here’s the thing: trust isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s the cornerstone of high-performing teams and successful organisations. Without trust, communication breaks down, innovation stalls, and morale plummets. So, if you’re ready to transform your team’s success and unlock its full potential, it’s time to prioritise trust. Let Awakening Excellence (Pty Ltd), help you easily establish what the status is within your team or organisation with accurate and affordable workplace surveys.

Trust the Research 

Recent studies have emphasised the pivotal role of trust in organisational dynamics. A global survey conducted by Harvard Business School’s Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society and the Edelman Trust Institute found that amidst economic turbulence and global uncertainty, people are increasingly looking to their employers and business leaders as beacons of truth. Research published in Harvard Business Review reveals that people at high-trust companies report lower stress levels, higher energy at work, increased productivity, and greater overall satisfaction with their lives compared to those at low-trust organisations.

Strategies for Cultivating Trust

As a leader, you have the opportunity to cultivate trust within your team and organisation. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Lead with Transparency: Share information openly and honestly with your team members. Transparency builds credibility and fosters trust by keeping everyone informed and aligned with organisational goals and priorities.

2. Demonstrate Authenticity: Lead by example and demonstrate authenticity in your interactions. Show vulnerability, acknowledge your mistakes, and communicate openly with your team. Seize every opportunity to build trust through genuine connections and mutual respect.

3. Be Reliably Consistent: Follow through on your commitments and demonstrate reliability in your actions. Consistency builds trust by establishing credibility and reliability, earning the respect and confidence of your team members. 

4. Provide Growth Opportunities: Invest in your team’s professional development and growth. Offer training, mentorship, and opportunities that allow them to develop new skills, expand their knowledge, and progress in their careers. This shows your commitment to their success and builds trust by demonstrating that you have their best interests at heart. 

5. Encourage Collaboration: Create opportunities for collaboration and teamwork within the team or organisation. Encourage team members to work together on projects, share knowledge and expertise, and support each other in achieving common goals. Collaboration fosters trust by promoting a sense of unity and shared purpose among team members.

Building trust within your team may not always be easy, especially in the face of organisational change or uncertainty. However, by addressing challenges head-on and proactively working to foster a culture of trust, you can overcome obstacles and drive positive outcomes. 

Remember, this is a journey that requires commitment, patience, and ongoing effort. I encourage you to embrace it with an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow. By prioritising trust-building initiatives and fostering a culture of transparency, authenticity, and reliability, you can create a high-performing team that thrives in a dynamic business environment. 

Warm regards,

Dr. Mariam Sha

MD at Awakening Excellence

#Trust #Leadership #Awakening Excellence

Managing millennials: key facts to keep in mind

There has been much debate, frustration and many challenges surrounding cross-generational managing in the workplace, especially when it comes to millennials. Millennials have typically been seen as a ‘special breed’ of employees that require a different approach to manage. Labelling and compartmentalising them further adds to the mystery that we have created.

“Any new generation, when viewed by the previous generations, are seen through the perspective of being different,” says Dr Mariam Sha, founder and director of Awakening Excellence. “The truth of the matter is that those previous generations play a major role in contributing to many of the behaviour patterns of the new generation. We raised them through our value system. Each generation is also influenced by the broader environment of the time – media, social norms, new technology and new perspectives that guide their own needs and how to achieve them.”

Millennials at work: what does research really say?

You don’t have to search too far and wide through the internet to find claims being made about millennials, who they are and what makes them tick.

Some claims are negative: they’re lacking in work ethic (Marston, 2009) or overly self-confident and self-absorbed (Pew Research Center, 2007). Some commentators go further, labelling millennials the ‘Look at Me’ generation.

Other claims are positive: they are more accepting of diversity, more comfortable working in teams, better communicators and better with technology (Myers & Sadaghiani 2010).

As organisations look to improve the employee experience to drive wellbeing and productivity, these types of claims will likely influence the process, particularly as the concentration of millennials in the workplace rises.

Job-hopping is likely a marker of age rather than generation

Millennial loyalty is often called out and they are said to be more likely to job hop between positions at different organisations. There is some truth in the idea that millennials are likely to move between jobs.

However, it’s not unique to the millennial generation. In fact, figures on job tenure are the same for people in their 20s now as they were in the 1980s.

In other words, it seems a tendency to move jobs in your 20s reflects age-appropriate behaviour, rather than being linked to the generation you were born in. Job-hopping is most likely a strategic move by younger people designed to advance their careers and earn more money.

Working culture and hours are determined by life stage

Working hours typically correlate with seniority (Deal, 2007). So when people say that millennials work less than previous generations, it may simply be that they are less senior and therefore their roles do not demand such long hours.

In fact, the Family and Work Institute in 2005 found no difference between the hours worked by millennials between the ages of 18 and 22 and Generation X between the same ages.

Work may be less important to millennials, but this is societally driven.

A desire for work-life balance – i.e. how central work is to your life compared with personal domains – is more likely driven by life-stage factors, such as having a young family at home, rather than generational differences, and right now the millennial generation are marrying and having young families.

Millennials are more comfortable with technology, but this is a trend, not a generational quality. People often say millennials have grown up with technology and so are more comfortable using it, and expect good technology to be present inside organisations.

Millennial health is definitely a cause for concern

Deal, Altman & Rogelberg (2010) highlight that if health behaviours do not improve, millennials will be less healthy due to obesity than other cohorts at the same age. This is bad for society as a whole, but also for productivity as the cost of health-related absence is so high.

Of course, with the dominance of the knowledge economy, the cohort following the millennials – Generation Z – will face the same problems.

That’s why it’s important we focus on wellbeing in the workplace to enable better physical and mental health, both for public health and for productivity.