I recently came across an interesting article (published in Talent Management) in which Randy Emelo, president and CEO of Triple Creek, a provider of enterprise mentoring systems, offers suggestions on what qualities to encourage in the workplace and how to help people build trust in the time of remoteness.
In the article, trust is highlighted as a vital piece of today’s networked mentoring landscape. Within a virtual environment, learning centers developed to motivate internal relationship building, in my opinion (and from a trainer’s perspective), can create a highly contextualized interaction between employees.
While there is certainly an obvious advantage to working remotely, the rarely mentioned disadvantage remains that there can be at times a feeling of a slight disconnect. Some employees work remotely for years and may rarely or sometimes never actually meet their colleagues in person, so it’s important that a company’s virtual workplace environment aims to close gaps in relational distance.
Emelo suggests leaders can help build an environment of trust by encouraging people to follow a few guidelines that will build camaraderie and emphasize their commitment to their mentoring network:
- Give willingly and generously – People must have the desire and willingness to share knowledge and insights with their colleagues if they expect trust to form.
- Act humbly and courageously – One of the keys to building trust in a virtual mentoring network revolves around embodying the characteristics of humility and courageousness.
- Engage others honestly and openly – Honesty is vital to building trust because trust is based on confidence in other people’s character.
The main take-away from this article was that remote employees need a virtual environment where their reputation and character won’t have to deviate from how they would be perceived in a face-to-face setting. They will simply use technology to help project the way they typically interact with others. If they are responsive, collaborative and supportive in their physical work world, this will come through in their virtual reputation as they engage their mentoring network. This lends itself to building trust and boosting engagement in mentoring among colleagues and trainees.
I agree that while creating an environment full of purpose and hope in a virtual world can be challenging, it is crucial for the success of today’s distributed organizations and virtual mentoring networks. Have you found ways to successfully build a mentoring network with employees around the country or the world?