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The 3 Aspects Of Building Trust Between Leadership And Employees—And Why They’re So Necessary For A Company’s Growth

By Glen Allison
July 30, 2019

At companies like Honey, fostering and maintaining trust throughout all levels of the organization is crucial to growth. A lack of trust breeds uncertainty and confusion. That, in turn, hamstrings progress, which is why we take it so seriously.

The trouble, however, is that building trust in rapidly growing companiescan be difficult. As companies scale, leadership has less time to build relationships––certainly less time than was available at the beginning when the company consisted of only 20 people, for instance. This is problematic because building trust is like nurturing a garden: time and effort are a requirement. It’s a priority you can’t outsource or hurry through. 

At Honey, we’ve thought long and hard about how to answer this question––how to ensure we’re building and maintaining trust throughout the company so we’re always operating as the best versions of ourselves. It can be challenging, but it’s certainly possible. Here’s what we’ve identified as the most crucial components of the process. 

1) Building personal relationships with vulnerability from the start

Trust is rooted in relationships. In general, as human beings, we trust people we know and believe in. That’s why it’s imperative that company leadership enable employees to build these kinds of one-on-one relationships as much as possible and with the folks they most need genuine connection with.

Employee-manager relationships are amongst the most important kind for employees, so it’s a critical investment. The old adage rings true: people don’t quit companies; they quit managers. 

So, to this end, we build in time both at onboarding and more in the day-to-day for employees to really get to know their managers and for their relationships to grow on a personal, vulnerable level. In a way, these relationships form the foundation of a company’s success moving forward.

2) Communication founded in transparency and company values

Equally critical to the existence of personal relationships is trust in the larger system. Employees must have faith that the processes and values which inform decision making at the company are cogent and sound.

At Honey, the way we try and instill that faith is by ensuring internal company communication is transparent and consistent. This helps everyone feel attuned to the company’s mission and deepens their connection with our defined set of core values. Even though the executive team can’t get to know every intern, engineer, or employee personally, we can all trust each other to always further the company in our larger mission and to operate honestly within the framework of our core values. 

Even if employees don’t understand the more minute details that inform certain decisions, they need to be able to feel confident that those decisions are always made with the company’s best interest––as well as their own best interest––in mind.

This is true of big decisions, especially. Employees need to trust that leadership doesn’t do things on a whim––that decisions like the departure of an employee, for example, are well thought-out, never taken lightly, and are the product of a cogent, multi-level process. At Honey, for example, we have processes in place that prevent people from being let go unless it’s a truly poor fit for both the company and the employee. There should never be any surprises. 

3) Everyone holding themselves accountable

Finally, in order for an entire company to trust each other, everyone must feel confident that their teammates, managers, and leaders will hold themselves accountable at all times.

This, ultimately, is the lynchpin of trust; without such accountability, trust becomes impossible. It’s a two-way street. Employees need to feel confident that everyone around them will always do the things they promise to do. It’s a matter of holding accountability––along with honesty and integrity––in high esteem.

This is why we at Honey place such emphasis on hiring folks we know will hold themselves accountable the moment they walk in the door. But engendering the kind of culture where this is guaranteed requires more than just innate personal integrity. Foundational personal relationships, systematic communicational transparency, and an atmosphere where accountability is held in high regard––all these factors must be present. 

At the end of the day, consistency, transparency, and accountability are what allow for trust. 

It’s also what allows everyone inside a company to grow. In order to take risks and develop as people, we need to feel grounded and safe. We have to believe in the system to which we contribute. That means we must have faith that the individual components comprising that system––our teammates, company leaders, and managers––are all operating with accountability and consistency. That’s why, at Honey, we really do take trust so seriously. 

As it happens, such systemic and reliable trust is also what allows companies on the whole to grow and scale, too. When people are more willing to stretch themselves and take risks, that creates productivity, creativity, and positive energy. 

And those are the things that make companies great. 

Honey is currently hiring! If this article resonates with you, we’re certainly looking to talk. Go to joinhoney.com/careers to learn more.