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In January 2023, Brittany Pietsch, a former Cloudflare employee, went viral on TikTok for filming her firing and posting it on the popular social media platform. This sparked a trend of people, especially in the tech sector, recording their job losses as layoffs increased in January, leading to headlines like “Watch Me Lose My Job on TikTok.” This trend reflects a broader issue of trust in the workplace, with both employees and employers demonstrating a lack of trust in each other.

Many people feel disconnected from their leaders, teammates, and professional responsibilities, indicating a more profound issue that companies can no longer ignore. To address this, leaders must work on building trust within their teams. According to a 2023 Gallup poll, only 21% of U.S. employees strongly trust the leadership of their organization. Building trust is not just a nice feature, but a crucial business priority that impacts various aspects of an organization, from employee performance to risk management.

Leaders can build trust by demonstrating consistency, vulnerability, active listening, clear communication, transparency, and confidence in the future. By modeling these behaviors over time, trust is naturally developed within teams. Implementing rules of engagement that promote curiosity and equal participation among team members can also help foster connections and trust. Encouraging everyone to share ideas and understand root causes can lead to a more engaged and connected team.

Individual attention and coaching are essential for helping employees feel connected in the workplace. A Gartner HR Survey found that employees value manager support, but many managers struggle to prioritize individual attention due to increasing responsibilities. Providing feedback, coaching, and teaching new skills to employees on an individual basis can lead to higher engagement and a more connected team.

The recent TikTok trend highlighting job losses is a symptom of a larger issue of mistrust between employees and leaders. Leadership is ultimately about fostering connections and creating a culture of trust within an organization. Leaders must take responsibility for building connections between team members, the organization, and its leaders. By fostering trust and actively engaging with their teams, leaders can create a culture of connection, leading to greater success and growth within the organization.

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