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Strong Leaders Use These 4 Strategies to Build Trust in Their Workplace Building trust is crucial for peak performance, whether your company goes fully remote, hybrid or follows another model. Research backs this up loud and clear.

By Max Azarov Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Remote work is growing in tech, finance and administrative office-based jobs.
  • You can achieve success by implementing specific strategies that foster trust between managers and remote staff.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More people are working remotely these days, and there are many tools that business owners can use to help their teams stay on track with their workloads, no matter where they are based. But the secret sauce to making a remote or hybrid team work well together isn't technology; it's trust.

According to a 2023 study by WFH Research, approximately 13% of people employed full-time work from home 100% of the time, and 28% of this group of people split their time between home and the office. This remote work trend is huge in tech, finance and administrative office-based jobs.

There's still some debate about whether everyone should return to the office, but most people agree that a mix of home and office work will probably become the norm. Why? Companies are seeing proof that amending their policies to allow people to work remotely can boost productivity and profits while keeping employees happy and balanced. It's a win-win!

Trust, not micromanagement, is the key to success

Building trust is crucial for peak performance, whether your company goes fully remote, hybrid or follows another model. Research backs this up loud and clear.

Studies by Paul J. Zak, a Harvard-trained neuro-economist, show that employees in high-trust workplaces are more productive, collaborative and loyal. They're also happier and less stressed, leading to even better results. This "trust over surveillance" approach is echoed by leaders like Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, whose company thrives with a 90% remote workforce.

Novakid, a fully remote international company, has achieved success by implementing specific strategies that foster trust between managers and remote staff. The following tactics can be used by any business leader who is establishing a thriving remote team.

Related: 5 Ways To Establish Trust In a Remote Workplace

1. Building trust is the secret weapon

Studies show a clear link between trust (think of it as social glue) and strong economies – and that applies to companies too. But for trust to take root, leaders need to genuinely believe in it themselves. You can't build a trusting company culture (remote, hybrid or in-office) if you're constantly second-guessing your team.

The key is finding the right balance. Trust your employees to be responsible, and empower them with the tools they need to do their jobs well (think project management software and clear communication channels). But don't be naive – some monitoring is essential to identify any performance issues.

Create a system where everyone feels accountable. It should be easy to flag unresponsive colleagues or missed deadlines. This can be done via workforce productivity and workflow management tools. Most importantly, this can be done by fostering a culture where everyone feels comfortable speaking up about concerns.

2. Hiring for trust and autonomy

Job interviews are a way to find great people who fit your company culture, especially people who thrive with the freedom that comes from trust.

Sharpen your HR processes and interviewing skills. Learn to ask questions that tell the real story – can they handle a challenge, how do they deal with mistakes, are they team players? Look for both their skills and their personality – watch body language and see if their answers align with your values of trust and honesty.

Once you find the right fit, onboarding should be smooth. Don't overwhelm new hires on the first day – explain their role, set expectations, provide all relevant materials they will need for their job and then step back. Trust them to get up to speed. They'll appreciate the freedom and responsibility, and it sets the stage for a trusting work style.

Related: 6 Ways to Encourage Autonomy With Your Employees

3. Keeping everyone on the same page

Building a team that holds itself accountable is key, no matter your work style. Here's how:

  • Set clear expectations: Make sure everyone knows what's expected of them.
  • Open communication: Keep the door open – your team needs to feel comfortable talking to you.
  • Regular feedback: Give regular check-ins to identify any roadblocks. Be honest and clear if something needs improvement.

Accountability can be difficult to implement and manage within fully remote teams. The key is finding the balance: empower your team with autonomy, but don't be afraid to address performance issues. You don't want to micromanage, but some oversight is necessary. The bottom line is that if someone consistently underperforms, it's important to take action, up to and including firing them. This shows everyone that you take accountability seriously.

4. Focus on results, not busywork

Forget about micromanaging with time trackers or spy software. The best way to gauge performance remotely is to set clear job duties, deadlines and expected outputs.

Remote teams already use project management and workflow tools. These can show you if someone's falling behind, but constant monitoring isn't the answer.

Tracking software can creep into employees' personal lives, and that's a big no-no. Trust your team to get their work done – let them figure out how to be most productive. Maybe that means working in bursts or outside typical hours. Micromanaging with monitoring tools just makes people unhappy and unproductive, and according to a Deloitte report, is fueling the "quiet quitting" trend.

Max Azarov

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO & Co-founder of Novakid

Max Azarov is the co-founder and CEO of Novakid, an online AI-platform that provides personalized English learning for kids ages 4-12 through gamification. He is a serial entrepreneur with successful cloud-related ventures. He's held positions at LG Electronics, Google, Cyber Vision and Digital 5.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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