Leadership Pro Tip: Ease Your Office Return Through Trust

If you want to convince your employees to come back to the office, it helps to lean into the trust you’ve nurtured.

A return to the office has to be sold to your employees, some of whom might understandably be skeptical. If sold poorly, you could even face a public mutiny, as The Washingtonian did this past spring, or employee departures, as with Apple.

But if you’ve cultivated one of the key elements of effective leadership—trust—now may be the time to cash in those chips.

What’s the Strategy?

Trust is important right now for two reasons, according to a recent article by the Canada-based Human Resources Professionals Association. First, it’s important to build a larger organizational pivot on the back of a leader that employees trust; and second, there will be people working in different settings, potentially raising concerns of favoritism, something a strong leader can help mitigate.

“Trustworthy leaders were needed to weather the challenges of a pandemic, and they will be the lifeblood of an organization’s success in the future,” the association writes.

Why Is It Effective?

The key element comes down to resilience, says Sharon Confessore of the firm CSuite3, in comments to HRPA. If the people in your organization believe in your leadership, they’ll stay with you even if times get tough.

“Resilient organizations—the ones that remain successful post-pandemic—have high-trust leaders,” she explained.

As Propel’s Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant told blogger Mark Athitakis earlier this year, there’s also the concern about being able to break down silos that have built up as a result of the pandemic.

“You can’t have informal, casual, spur-of-the-moment conversations, and I think people have underestimated the value of those,” Notter said.

That means more deliberate leadership is going to be the way forward during this transition, and deliberate leadership requires trust.

What’s the Potential?

Of course, building upon a strong culture of trust isn’t just a factor for convincing employees to work out of an office rather than at home.

A  2017 Harvard Business Review article finds that trust can build a stronger organization and a better culture.

“In my research I’ve found that building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference,” author Paul J. Zak wrote. “Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies.”

Once you get your employees back in the office—wherever that office may be—you might be able to do something special with it.

(Twomeows_IS/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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