Why Trust Matters in the Workplace
The need for trust in the workplace is a fundamental building block of any organization and can be regarded as so important as to make issues pertaining to trust capable of making or breaking an organization's culture. Yet, despite the importance of encouraging and developing it, trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain.
It varies by degree, from leadership to employees, from employees to superiors, from department to department, and from coworker to coworker. Trust takes a long time and much effort to develop, but only one event to diminish it or eliminate it completely.
Unfortunately, many employees are predisposed to mistrust managers as fallout not only from restructuring and downsizing but also as a result of bad experiences with managers at other jobs in other companies. Nevertheless, earning employees' trust is a key component to being a successful leader in a successful organization and is the product of daily practice and numerous decisions that leaders and managers make every day. It means leaders must be conscious of their daily practices that either make or break employee trust.
In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey describes trust in basic terms: "Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust - distrust - is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them - in their integrity and their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them - of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It's that simple."
Why does trust matter and what are the benefits of a trusting workplace?
Here are some points to consider:
- Trust is good for morale and motivation.
- Trust builds teamwork and collaboration.
- Trust produces increased speed, improved efficiency and hence, decreases costs.
- Trust empowers ethical decision-making.
- Trust increases loyalty and the willingness to stay with a company.
- Trust decreases stress levels and hostility in the work environment.
- Trust overcomes resistance to change.
- Trust breaks down corporate silos and isolating behaviors.
- Trust is a gateway to persuasion, sharing and developing ideas.
- Trust is a key ingredient to coaching and improving employee performance.
Are you building a culture of trust?
Conduct a personal inventory by answering the following questions.
Using these questions as a guideline to assess personal behavior will help to create an awareness of the daily practices that encourage a culture of trust in your workplace that will create a better work environment and do wonderful things for your company.
- Am I listening to my employees and seeking their ideas, suggestions and opinions?
- Am I open to employee ideas and including those ideas in the decision making process?
- Am I setting and communicating consistent expectations regarding team and individual performance objectives?
- Do I tell employees the truth and follow through by doing what I say I am going to do, even when it is difficult?
- Am I treating everyone with the same dignity and respect that I expect and would like to receive, without revealing bias, judgment or personal favoritism?
- Are my own career goals or a personal agenda interfering with my team's performance and my commitment to my employees' success?
- Do I demonstrate concern and caring for each individual employee, work group and department?
- Do I set a good example and conduct myself in a manner consistent with the mission, vision and values of the organization?
Do your employees trust that your employee survey is anonymous?
If you use an in-house or DIY tool to conduct surveys, there is a very high likelihood that your employees will mistrust it. If there's even the perception that a survey is not anonymous, you won't get honest feedback, and without honesty, the results won't paint an accurate picture of your workplace culture. Worst case scenario, the survey will arouse fear of retribution, engender mistrust and ultimately make things worse.