A recent survey stated that only 39% of employees trust their senior leaders in established organizations. And although this ‘stat’ could be attributed to several factors that may include - actions of the senior leaders, generational behaviours of the employees, overall confidence in the economic climate, etc. – what is important to recognize is that trust might be the underlying issue in both the employees & employers optimum success!
Trust a skill?
The concept that trust is a skill, not just some intangible may be a surprise. Trust can be quantified and measured, it is possible to look at its components, understand the dimensions and the behaviours that build trust. It is possible to establish and grow trust in any relationship. On an individual level, whether we trust someone, how fast and how much is as much part of our behavioural profile, as our surroundings. What a team needs is a framework so they can think about trust, a language so they can talk about trust and a process so they can work on trust. Trust is the confidence people have in each other, and must be a combination of character and competence.
Trust as a combination of character and competence means that one cannot be severed from the other. The first step is to ensure we ourselves are trustworthy, our character, our behaviour, our language, our actions and the competency level we display at work; then to extend this trust and confidence outwards to our team members.
When trust is extended people will thrive. Consider the simple example of the overly distrustful and skeptical manager. There is evidence that this will affect the way they behave towards their employees; small indicators such as less eye contact, less expressive language, closed body position and measured speech. The employee will pick up on that uncertainty and distance, making him a little less confident, a little less friendly and a little less certain of his competency. This in turn makes the manager doubtful about the character of the employee and competence, throwing the work relationship off course and diminishing trust.
There is a risk in trusting, but there is even more risk in not trusting. If you do not have the belief you can trust your team members, managers and employees, you will lose them, and bring in all kinds of new costs. Extending a level of trust to people until they prove themselves unworthy of that trust allows more possibility to happen.
What we can do.
It is important to understand what you can do immediately to increase, grow and establish trust within your organization and team.
(1) Action items are what you want to establish first, with a clear understanding of what it is that you can work on personally and immediately. Think about how you can become more trustworthy and how you can extend more trustworthiness to someone on your team; which behaviours of yours inspire trust and which do not.
(2) Be responsible. No matter what situation you are in, you can always be responsible for your own level of trustworthiness.
As Covey states, trust is an extraordinary lever, it's the hidden variable that affects the trajectory of everything else; your relationships, your ability to innovate, execute, collaborate, and communicate in a positive or negative way. When trust is present relationships thrive, efficiency and speed increase and costs go down.