By Brandon Laws
How often have we talked about someone when he was not around, worried ourselves silly about losing a job, or taken on a task because we felt someone else couldn’t get the job done the right way? In the workplace, these are not uncommon scenarios. Surveys indicate that trust has dramatically declined over the past few years.
One significant factor in the decline of employee and public trust has been highly publicized unethical business practices (e.g., Enron, AIG). Other contributing factors in the workplace include inconsistent communication, micromanagement, lack of collaboration and bureaucracy in systems and structures. Whether it is the relationship between employee and employer, coworker to coworker, or even within our personal relationships, we must realize that there are many costs associated with not having trust in ourselves and in others.
Time is wasted when there is a lack of trust; and time is money. A lack of trust usually stems from a lack of communication and a high rate of misinterpretation. Trust and communication are the two most significant organizational problems cited in employee surveys. In order to build and maintain a culture of high trust, there must be open and honest communication. Concrete action needs to take place. The steps to trust building are as follows:
Before a person attempts to build trust with others, that person must first build trust within herself. So, how can a person build self-trust?
- Be completely honest with yourself. It is impossible to gain the trust of others when you do not trust yourself. That person would be a hypocrite.
- Reveal your own agenda. What are you setting out to accomplish? Is it possible to achieve the results desired? Does your agenda get in the way of others, possibly burning bridges along the way? Have your intentions clear in your mind and make sure your behavior is consistent with your intent.
- Realize your own capabilities. A person needs the right amount of skill in order to accomplish anything; and if that person doesn’t, he may need to educate himself in a certain area in order to complete the project, job or task at hand.
- Outline the results desired. It is difficult to accomplish something successfully without first imagining the desired results. Lay out what the end result should look like, and then follow it through to completion. Hold yourself accountable to these goals.
Once an individual is confident that he is a person that can be trusted, he is then more able to extend and receive trust from others. Trust building behaviors center around accountability, empathy and effective communication. Use these tips for improving trust in your relationships:
- Get to the point. Do not beat around the bush. Talk straight, but not to the point of being rude.
- Respect others. Demonstrate respect for others, and they will give it right back.
- Reveal agendas. Clearly define the agenda. Revealing (or discovering) a hidden agenda can be the ultimate trust killer.
- Admit when you are wrong and learn from it. Disputes can end immediately when you admit fault and move on. A person will likely learn from past mistakes, which minimize future mistakes with the same problem.
- Express loyalty. Talk about the good qualities in a person or organization, not the bad qualities. When a person praises someone in front of others, others can then assume that same person would talk similarly about them when they are not present.
- Finish. Conclude tasks, projects or jobs in complete form when you say you will and do so in a quality manner. Completing projects with half effort can lead to a reputation that you would finish any and all projects in the same manner, possibly resulting in being overlooked for the next big project.
- Increase capabilities. Be a continuous learner, train, spend time around the right influences and willingly take on new roles to learn new skills. This will ultimately make you more of an asset to a team.
- Embrace reality. Be realistic about things; analyze the situation and change your approach if need be
- Clearly define all expectations. Most miscommunication happens when expectations are not clear. Define the ultimate results desired upfront; this will save headache and confusion down the road.
- Hold yourself and others accountable. Take responsibility and hold yourself to the task. Hold others accountable as well, but never put the blame on someone else.
- Listen before you speak. Most ideas and information are missed due to poor listening. You might have been preparing to respond or not paying full attention to what others were saying. Key information may have been missed that results in severed trust between two people. Listen fully before responding, and you will gain the trust of others during conversation.
- Make commitments and keep them. Surprise, surprise! The more commitments a person makes and keeps, the more likely others will be to trust in that same person to keep future commitments. Keep even the small promises like taking a moment to meet with your employee.
- Extend trust to others. Let people know you trust them to do a task, get the job done or perform a certain way. They will be more likely to gain confidence when they know they have support from others.
Relationships and business are damaged by a lack of trust. By increasing the level of trust, teams and organizations work better and more effectively together. Great relationships create great teams, and great teams result in great organizations. We are all better off working together versus going at it alone – TRUST ME!
Source: “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey.
For more information on building trust in the workplace, contact Xenium HR at 503-612-1555 or visit www.XeniumHR.com. The staff at Xenium HR contributed to this article. It is intended as information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Xenium HR is a professional employer organization specializing in strategic HR partnership with small and mid-sized businesses.