Happy new year, dear folks.
Whilst pursuing a Masters in Education: Leadership and Management, one of the key modules was entitled SLOM [Strategic Leadership, Organization and Management]. The module was an eye opener in many ways as, among other notables, it focused on types of educational management based on trust. The emphasis was simple:
Being trustworthy is fundamental to establishing credibility.
However, as people are unlikely to tell you that they don’t trust you, it can be difficult to measure. Here we look at the importance of others having confidence in you, and how you can develop relationships built on trust.
How Trust Works
Trust is slightly unusual in the sense that it’s usually afforded in advance but is then tested afterwards. For example, a friend may ask you to do them a certain favour, and they have faith that you’ll do it. With this trust in place, you have to be careful not to abuse it.
If you’re a person who is honest and genuine in their dealings, people will have confidence in you. It’s not necessarily difficult to gain someone’s trust (a lot of that is dependent on the other person), but it will always take integrity.
In order for others to trust you, on a personal level, they need to know that:
- They can share their thoughts and feelings with you, and that you’ll respect them for it, even if you don’t agree with them.
- You will not spread their personal thoughts indiscriminately, or use this knowledge to gain an advantage over them.
- When they ask for your help, you will be supportive and offer constructive advice or assistance.
- There is respect between you, which in turn informs a positive and beneficial relationship.
- You will treat them in a fair, open and honest way.
- You can be relied upon to deal with situations in a dignified manner, and in a way that displays integrity.
The Importance Of Trust At Work
Trust is equally significant when forming working relationships. Whenever you make a decision about someone, it plays a major part in your thinking process. Consider this:
- When an organization fosters relationship and trust-building behaviors, employees focus on the work they were hired to do and productivity increases.
- When trust is damaged, morale and productivity begin to decline and turnover increases.
- Alternatively, as trust is a two-way process, the same applies whenever someone else is making a decision about you. For example: Can I trust them to get this finished on time? Can I trust them to deliver quality work? Can I trust them with this confidential information?
During my sojourn Down Under, I came across this book: Organisational Behaviour: Leading and Managing in Australia and New Zealand, by Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe and Waters-Marsh which identifies five dimensions that underpin the concept of trust:
- INTEGRITY – Integrity is consistently demonstrating honesty and truthfulness be it in giving feedback, acknowledging and accepting successes and mistakes of others as well as relaying and communicating relevant information. Integrity seems to be rated the most critical characteristic, as a positive perception of another’s moral character and basic honesty; the other dimensions of trust begin to have meaning once integrity is established.
- CONSISTENCY – This is having strong credibility, reliability, predictability and good judgment in handling any situation.
- OPENNESS – It is showing a genuine willingness to share ideas and information freely and openly; ensuring feelings, experiences, and concerns can be aired safely.
- LOYALTY – This is when demonstrating a willingness to protect and positively represent teams and individuals; as well as retaining confidentiality.
- COMPETENCE – This is possessing technical and interpersonal knowledge and skills including the ability to initiate new ideas, to be creative and communicating relevant information.
To help with this, it’s important you feel you are working in an environment that inspires trust. Just by being trustworthy yourself, you can have a positive impact and promote this culture.
Essential Ways On Building Trust
By working effectively, and respecting your colleagues, you’ll find that trust builds naturally. However, these additional pointers should also help:
- Understand why people trust you. People will trust you based on their personal experience and knowledge of your performance. If they know that you can do something, they will trust you to do it again, as well as similar related tasks. By constantly delivering and demonstrating your high standards, you can encourage others to increase their belief in your abilities. Trust will develop as your reputation as a high performer increases.
- When you don’t do the right thing, admit it. Be transparent, authentic and willing to share your mistakes and faults. When you are vulnerable and have nothing to hide, you radiate trust.
- Spread your trust factor. People remember you for your actions, good and bad! If you’ve made a success of something, don’t hide it. It’s not boasting to highlight a particular achievement; you’re merely demonstrating your effectiveness. Align your actions with results – trustworthy people can afford to let their track record speak for them, so make it a focus point.
- Show people you care about them. When people know you care about their interests as much as your own they will trust you. If they know you are out for yourself, their internal alarm sounds and they will say to themselves “watch out for that person.”
- Keep your promises. If you make a mistake or miss a deadline, admit to it rather than hope it goes unnoticed. Take steps to redress the situation and reassure people when objectives will be met. Always be clear in your own mind how you’re going to achieve your goals and keep communicating your progress to those involved.
- Trust generates commitment; commitment fosters teamwork; and teamwork delivers results. When people trust their team members they not only work harder, but they work harder for the good of the team.
- Trust is built one day, one interaction at a time, and yet it can be lost in a moment because of one poor decision. Make the right decision.
In this spirit, I have endeavoured sharing some thoughts about how we can build the trust that is essential for great relationships. Many of the suggestions above are already known and most of the ideas are common sense. However, I’ve found that so often amidst the chaos of life and work we forget the simple and powerful truths that matter most.
I leave you with a quote from Ernest Hemingway which goes: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”