We know trust is the foundation or glue that holds positive relations together. Relationships at work (i.e., co-worker, peer, boss, customer, supplier) and in life (i.e., family, friends, neighbors) depend on it. Simply put - trust matters. Need additional proof:
- One significant catalyst and driver to help improve employee engagement is to cultivate a culture of trust and respect. (The Conference Board)
- Just 48% of workers worldwide, trust their leaders and half of all employees who distrust senior management are seriously considering leaving their organization. (Kenexa HPI)
- “When trust goes up - speed will also go up and costs will go down.” (Covey)
So, now the classic question - how do we build trust? I recommend we first look ‘outside’ of the workplace and then apply what we learn ‘inside’. Here’s a practical five-step exercise I use with clients. It can be done individually as well as modified for a group or team.
Step 1. Think of people ‘outside’ of work that you trust. It may be a family member, friend, neighbor, church leader, doctor, or mechanic. Remember, think of only people ‘outside’ of work.
Step 2. Make a quick list of behaviors, characteristics, traits of the people you thought of in Step 1. What would they always do for you? How would they do “it”? What would they never do for you?
Step 3. Review this list of behaviors, characteristics, traits. How many apply inside the workplace? My experience is most do –it’s just a different setting. Behaviors like: keeps promises; really listens; non-judgmental; gives good advice; shows genuine interest in me; and keeps confidentiality are critical for trust – both outside and inside of the work environment.
Step 4. Circle two to three items on the list that you or your team believes are currently done consistently and well in the relationship. It is important not to forget these. Now, highlight one to two items on the list that need some attention. If these specific behaviors improved then so would trust.
Step 5. Build consensus on specific examples of the one to two improvement behaviors. The more clarity provided - the better. For example, we “really listen” when we turn off and away from all electronic devices and distractions when listening to someone else.
Lack of trust always prevents us from consistently giving our best – to an organization, a team, a cause, and/or an individual. Building or mending trust requires behavior change and replication of some lessons learned from the “outside – in.”