How Do You Address the Trust Gap?

by | Jul 22, 2015 | Communication, Leadership

We hear a lot about trust these days, trust between Greece and the European Union, police and community members, Iran and the United States as well as organizations and employees.  A while back, a national news story received a lot of attention. The title of the news story was “More Americans Becoming Trust Wary” written by Connie Cass . The basis of the story is that Americans are less likely to trust one another now than 40 years ago when the question was first asked in the General Social Survey. The results of this poll caused me to think more deeply about how trust impacts success.

The question this poll asked was, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” The percentage of people who said “Most people can be trusted” was 32%. Sixty four percent answered “You can’t be too careful”. How does that statistic impact your business, your team and your leadership? If you want or need your customers to trust you, and only 32% feel people are trustworthy, how do you reach them? And if that is the level of trust from your employees, how engaged are they in what needs to happen to make them and your organization successful?

Trust is an essential element in business, as it is in life. Employers have to trust their employees with:
• Company data,
• Fulfilling their job responsibilities,
• Effective management of company resources and,
• Appropriate interactions with the customer.
Employees have to trust that the organization they work for will fulfill their responsibility of paying the employee, providing a safe work environment and the providing opportunities to excel in their roles.
Trust is also a critical component in how we interface as communities and citizens. Take for instance, the relationship between law enforcement and citizens. That relationship is critical to our functioning as a nation as well as in our communities. Recent stories in the news have clearly demonstrated the fragility of trust in this arena.

When trust breaks down, so do relationships. As Steven Covey said, “Almost all the work of the world is done through relationships with people and in organizations.” These relationships are essential to our success. Trust is also a critical aspect of an effective team in any organization. Effective and productive collaboration can happen only when team members trust one another.

Many of you can probably recall a story of when your trust in someone was broken. It often happens when people behave in ways that are counter to your expectations of them. We live in very interesting times now. Several factors have influenced the way we treat one another. It may be that many of you do not know what to expect which creates a challenge with trust, as the poll results referred to earlier indicates.  And dysfunctional personnel dynamics in the work place will consistently damage trust.

Most of you know that trust takes time to rebuild once it is lost. Trust can only be rebuilt when there is willingness and the choice to trust. The good news is that your choice to trust others is completely within your control, as is your behavior. Some quick tips regarding trust:
• Trust is the result of consistent, conscientious action; evaluate your consistency.
• Effective communication often builds trust; consider where you can improve your communication.
• Unrealistic expectations can erode trust; are you willing to do what you ask of others?
• Harboring resentment makes it impossible to trust; understanding can dissipate resentment.
• You can set the tone of trust and respect by how you show up in your relationships.

I have more faith in people than the researchers seem to in their conclusions in the article. Recognize that, according to the article, there may be people you interface with daily who are “trust wary.” You have the ability to overcome that wariness with employees, co-workers and customers by modeling what trust looks like. Trust is a significant part of success, as an individual, an organization and a community. What are you doing today to build trust?

Sue Kenfield specializes in transforming dysfunctional human dynamics within organizations, communities and with individuals. We empower people and organizations to maximize their success by improving leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills which increases performance, minimizes turnover and improves the bottom line through our leadership and team development, conflict management, behavioral intelligence and executive coaching programs. Contact us to learn more.

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