Creating a diverse workforce, providing time and space for creative thinking, and being a personable manager are effective ways to earn trust.
Ironically, focusing on productivity can inhibit innovation. In order to maximize productivity and achieve meaningful progress in your organization, you need the trust and emotional investment of each employee. But how can you achieve this buy-in from your workforce?
The answer could be as simple as fostering a creative, diverse set of workers.
Effective managers are always looking for new ways to improve their skill set, whether it be through studying for their MBA or trying out the latest trending management strategies. Such leaders should recognize that there are links between creativity and trust/emotional investment. When a diverse range of employees are encouraged to think creatively and express their ideas, they feel more valued as individuals.
How can you strengthen creativity — and therefore trust — in the workplace? Here are three proven strategies:
Find New Perspectives: Hire With Diversity in Mind
The most obvious benefit of having a culturally and physically diverse workforce is that you can bring in many new perspectives. Diversity isn’t only about tolerance; it’s about bringing in new modes of thinking.
An added benefit of seeking out diverse candidates is that doing so can build trust with your workforce as a whole. A workplace that embraces diversity is an environment that can build trust. If your staff is homogeneous, consisting only of employees that resemble yourself, any candidates that do not match your demographic will feel unwelcome. As a result, they may become emotionally detached from work — and become both less happy and less productive. However, when an employee is greeted by a spectrum of diverse, friendly faces working together, it signals to them that they belong.
Furthermore, people of diverse backgrounds have a diverse range of needs. Keep in mind that fulfilling these can not only improve productivity for that specific worker but also morale for your workforce as whole. Meeting those needs demonstrates your organization’s commitment to overall employee well-being. For instance, employees with a physical handicap, such as veterans with service-connected disabilities, may require accommodations to complete work-related tasks. Providing them with assistive technology is an obvious sign that you are invested in their growth in your organization.
The result? A stronger, unified workforce.
Encourage Creativity: Give Employers Time and Room to Create
Micromanaging your employees’ time can be seen as a sign of distrust, and employees are likely to reciprocate if they interpret your actions this way. As a result, they won’t care about bringing new ideas to the table.
There’s no denying it: Innovation takes time. So how can you expect employees to bring new ideas, transform your organization, and ultimately build trust and emotional investment if you’re busy closely monitoring how they spend every minute? Give employees time to be creative and explore new ideas. If your business model or industry allows it, you may even want to give employees some agency in setting their own schedules.
In addition to having time to explore new ideas, employees need a workspace that is conducive to creativity:
Collaborative spaces: These are helpful for giving workers room to work together on new concepts.
Private spaces: You’ll also need to give workers some space to work privately. This is especially helpful for introverts, who may find open office settings to be stifling.
Nature: If feasible, give employees some time outside. Time spent in nature can work wonders on your mental well-being. You might also want to bring some nature indoors: Flowers, ferns, and small trees can liven up any space, and natural lighting can be inviting.
Loosen Up: Be Personable in Office Communications
When speaking with employees, remember that no one enjoys feeling like they aren’t being truly listened to — or that communication in your workplace is a one-way street. Perform regular office mood check-ins and regularly communicate with employees regarding their concerns.
In short, talk to your employees like they are humans. Loosen up. Include every employee in the ongoing dialogue of work-related issues and announcements. Use humor when appropriate. Ask open-ended questions and earnestly wait for responses. When employees understand they are being heard, they can much more easily become emotionally invested in the well-being of the company.
Of course, it’s important to balance personability with professionalism. When workplace chatter becomes a distraction or employee language borders on potentially offensive, have a discussion with them about appropriate office language. If this behavior persists after holding a conversation with them, begin looking into punitive/remedial actions.
If managers are unable to keep the workplace professional, consider looking into hiring a management analyst; these experts, in the words of Arizona State University, are committed to “(g)athering and analyzing data related to the performance of teams or individuals in a business, particularly its managers and executives.” An analyst could indicate where communication is breaking down and offer solutions.
Creating a diverse workforce, providing time and space for creative thinking, and being a personable manager are effective ways to earn trust. Do any of these strategies have your creative juices flowing? Do you have any other suggestions for fostering diversity? Let us know in the comments below!