Covid-19 turned millions of employees into remote workers in what seemed like a nanosecond. Many managers started to wonder if their staff were really working or enjoying bon-bons while watching a binge-worthy series on Netflix.

A lack of trust can negatively impact employee productivity, engagement, and retention.

According to Dr. Sherri Malouf, author of Science and the Leader-Follower Relationship, 

“If trust is broken or lacking between leaders and followers, it can be extremely detrimental to the organizational dynamics, creating a drain on the individuals who are forced to work together.”

Building a culture that fosters the core values of trust and effective communication is paramount if you want to keep your best people and develop exceptional leaders and followers. As we already know, effective communication, marked by honesty and respect, leads to elevated levels of trust. The idea is to get everyone communicating openly across the organization, at every level, on a global scale.

There are three strategic soft skills that will help.

  1. Influence

Excellent influencers achieve their objectives while maintaining and nurturing important relationships. That sounds simple, but in practice it can be extremely challenging. Many people achieve their influence objectivesonly at the expense of important relationships. Others habitually avoid challenging influence situations, sacrificing their objectives.

As we move from one work or personal situation to another our influence objectives change, and the way we communicate to reach those objectives should change as well. Influence is a focused application of behavioral skills that we employ in order to achieve a desired outcome. These skills are within our control. We are capable of making strategic decisions about the impact we want to have on others, which ultimately impacts trust, and we are capable of choosing to alter our actions – IF we have an adequate array of behavioral alternatives – an influence “tool kit”.

  1. Self-Awareness

People who are self-aware embrace that they are responsible for how they communicate and build trust with others. They feel accountable for their relationships, thoughts, behaviors, and results. Self-aware people create who they are through their personal power and a life-long commitment to learning and growing as human beings.

What we think and believe affects how we react in every situation in our lives. What this means is that we view the world around us through our own personal filters. People who are self-aware understand that to build trust they need to understand how their own thoughts and actions are affecting the way they communicate and the impact they have on others.  They lead through their heart and use rational thought to determine how they act and sustain new behaviors.  As building trust is the cornerstone of one’s success, the development of this soft skill should be positioned at the forefront of the personal development journey, using strategies to increase self-awareness.

  1. Organizational Savvy

An organization is comprised of a series of systems.

According to Dr. Malouf:

 “For leaders and followers, systems overlap and interact. They must be able to see the bigger picture of the situation while, at the same time, being able to zero in on the details of any problem or relationship.”

The ability to strategically map the organization to understand how to better impact people is the big picture. Understanding what makes an organization tick and being able to navigate through these systems helps people build trust with stakeholders, while positively impacting the organization at the same time. People with organizational savvy know their sources of power both personally and organizationally, and they strategically apply that power to get results and build relationships.

In summary, successful people are able to deploy and balance these three key strategic soft skills and support the organization in building a culture of high trust and open communication.