Listen with respect and show empathy. Leaders especially need to show that they care about each and every employee as individuals. This is an area many of my coaches and I have to work with managers on.
Use a team effectiveness exercise. Lencioni suggests each member of a team tell other members what their greatest contribution is to the team as well as what one thing they should improve in. This can reveal valuable information for each person. Of course, having a strong facilitator will be important to avoid hard feelings.
Use a personality assessment. Using something such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Strength Deployment Inventory can show similarities and differences among colleagues so that they can better appreciate the contributions that each person brings to the table. Having used both of these tools in many organizations, I have seen that employees truly appreciate understanding each others' styles and preferences.
Confront and right wrongs that exist in the organization.
Use a 360-degree feedback tool to provide colleagues with developmental feedback that can help them see how others view their strengths and areas to improve. Often I have found that people may not really understand how they are coming across to others.
Trust is critical as the foundation for any organization that wants to be successful. It takes time to build and takes effort to maintain. It doesn't mean that there won't be conflict. It does mean that handling conflict will be done in a healthy way. Each action taken by the leader and employees makes a difference in building a strong trusting culture. If done, the rewards can be monumental.
Russell is the vice dean and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management. She can be reached at email@example.com.