Who can you TRUST these days anyway?
In business as in private life, all successful relationships run on trust. We place our trust in our employer to treat us fairly and honour our contract. We give our trust to our colleagues hoping that they won’t stab us in the back. We trust companies to deliver on their promises regarding the product or service we buy. We expect business deals to be fairly transacted. Yet with so many people letting us down… who can you trust these days anyway?
However as Stephen M.R. Covey states in his book Smart Trust “If you want to be trusted, you’ve got to give trust—you’ve got to give it to get it.” That of course is the challenge. For us to enjoy the benefits of a Culture of Trust we have to offer our own trust.
It’s what Patrick Lencioni wrote about in his powerful bestselling fable ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team’. The foundation of all great teams and working cultures is what Lencioni calls Vulnerability Based Trust. This is when we stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones and no longer think of competing with our peers or protecting ourselves from others, rather we take the risk to make ourselves vulnerable by acknowledging our need for support from our team even if we are meant to be seen as the all-knowing, all-competent CEO.
An Institute of Leadership & Management Report 2014 highlighted the top 5 fundamental leadership skills which build trust: Integrity, Openness, Effective Communication, Ability to Make Decisions, and Competence in the Role.
It’s not rocket science to grasp that trust creates a better working environment. Colleagues are more willing to share ideas, co-operate and support each other where mutual trust exists. Employees are more satisfied, engaged and perform to higher levels when there is a strong trust culture.
Like cash in your pocket, if you perform well and take people with you then you receive some change. If you make mistakes or don’t treat people well then you give out change. So if you build up enough change even a large honest mistake can be forgiven. However if you have used up all your change even a small blunder and you are history.
‘People will tolerate honest mistakes, but if you violate their trust you will find it very difficult to ever regain their confidence… You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real personal regard for the people with whom you work’.
Craig Weatherup CEO PepsiCo
Mike Cope in ‘The Seven C’s of Coaching’ follows the same cash in your pocket metaphor and asks How can we grow the Trust Fund? Although he is talking about the client to coach partnership the principles he outlines are applicable more widely and there is an echo of the 5 fundamental skills from the ILM report. He suggests 5 ways to monitor our TRUST building capacity. How might you rate? Where might you be able to take some key steps forward?
T- Truthful – Be honest and straightforward with everyone, develop and maintain integrity.
R – Responsive – Be open about your world and its challenges and take a genuine interest in your colleagues, customers or clients world and their key concerns and interests.
U- Uniform – Be clear, consistent, even predictable in the way you communicate and act, being steady emotionally too.
S- Safe – Be supportive and create a safe place for others, maintain confidentiality, don’t gossip.
T – Trained – Be competent and seek to enhance your knowledge and capabilities.
What might you do differently? Where might be a good place to take a step forward?
Why not ask your team, your colleagues, your boss... how can I strengthen the culture of trust?
You never know it might start a very interesting conversation and help you establish a stronger foundation of trust in your team, after all who can you trust these days anyway?