Trust in the Workplace

In many organizations, the level of trust between co-workers, between managers and employees, or between executives and the front-lines is low. Perhaps, to some, this is viewed as normal. While it may be common, it is certainly not an effective way of leading an admired organization or supporting a high-performance team. What does it mean for performance and productivity when there is a lack of trust?

  • Trust is Key. 79% of people think it is important their leader be trustworthy–in fact it is the top quality they want in their leader.Yet…
  • Loss of Trust Happens. 47% of employers think that employee trust has declined as a result of the way their company has managed its cost reductions.  Leads to…
  • Top Talent Becomes Disillusioned. 48% of employees who plan to look for a new job cite a loss of trust in their employer as a result of how business and operational decisions were handled as a reason for leaving.

5 Behaviors That Undermine Trust:

  • Hype and overpromise. Promoting and publicizing can only do so much. Beneath the hype, there has to be a delivery of value. If there is not, the message that is being sent is that your words have no merit and your promises are empty–that is something people will take note of. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…
  • Lies, half-truths, and spin. Many times, people can tell when you are lying.  Evasive communication is perfectly fine when someone asks an inappropriate question and you want to respond in a diplomatic and cordial way. But when someone truly deserves an explanation and you refuse to be up-front with one, you send a very strong and negative message about one of two things: (1) your own character, or (2) how much you value your relationship with them.
  • Botched delivery of a difficult message. How you communicate can be just as important as what you say. The way a difficult situation is handled either builds trust or destroys it, period. Certainly by varying degrees depending on the situation, but there is generally no neutral action you can take. Ignoring an issue, delaying explanation, using excuses, not apologizing, relinquishing accountability, shifting blame, condescension, or using the inappropriate communication channels are some of the things to watch out for.
  • Not extending trust. A trusting relationship is a two-way street. Withholding trust only serves to create a culture of distrust. A few examples are micromanaging, duplicating or re-checking work, and creating policies that send the message, “we don’t trust you.”
  • Combative conflict management style. While task-related conflict can be very productive, getting involved with personal conflicts never is. Avoid threats, win/lose propositions, personal attacks, put-downs, abusing authority, bullying, and stirring up drama.

In the short-term, taking one of these actions might seem like a reasonable solution, even a win, or perhaps it is justified as the only option. But the fact is there are hidden costs in compromising integrity. To support and participate in behaviors that compromise trust—lying, hypocrisy, etc.—is taking a major risk with longstanding relationships and long-term well-being of the organization. Not to mention, it tarnishes your personal and professional brand.

Article Credit: Eva Rykrsmith

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