I’ve noticed that “trust” isn’t generally something that’s formally assessed in organisations—and yet “when it’s good it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad it’s horrid.”
Simply put, you wouldn’t be a very useful leader if your peers and your team members didn’t trust you implicitly!
Why Is It A Big Deal If There’s Not A Lot Of Trust In An Organisation?
It’s a big deal because, as well as an important social issue, the level of trust you’re generating in your organisation is a key economic issue.
The impact of low trust on productivity and profits is enormous. When trust in you and your leadership isn’t optimal, here’s what happens:
- Your team members’ discretionary effort will be second-rate.
They won’t go the extra mile and they won’t display initiative. And you certainly don’t want them to be there only for their financial reward, do you?
- Speed goes down and costs go up.
Team members will tend to behave a like turtles—slow moving, scared to stick their necks out and hiding behind a protective shell.And expenses and savings tend not to be well taken care of. (For example, that’s when stationery “disappears”.)
- Teamwork with your peers will suffer.
Without trust in your peer team, thoughts and feelings won’t be candidly shared and siloed behaviours will be rampant. Who wants to be in a team in which there’s widespread fear and self-protectiveness?
Have you ever experienced these “hidden taxes” that low trust gives birth to?
Fear Creeps In When Trust Is Absent
It’s horrible when sceptical employees are overheard saying things like:
- “Why would I trust the senior people here when they don’t do what they say they’ll do?”
- “My boss is just looking after himself.”
- “The managers here don’t trust one another. Why would we trust them?”
It’s unlikely that this degree of sceptical thinking is the tenor of corridor conversations at your place. However I do want you to reflect on how much trust there is in your organisation and what you could do to raise it.
My view is that it’s incumbent on you, as a leader in your organisation, to make sure that the trust that your team members have in you is optimal. And the trust that your peers have in you is optimal too. The costs of not doing so are way too high!
When Does Trust In An Organisation Soar?
Have you ever been in an organisation when trust has soared?
One study (by Watson Wyatt & Company) said that high-trust companies outperform low-trust companies by nearly 300%. Now that is huge! Even 25% of that would be worthwhile J.
To bring about an increase in trust at your place you’ll need to be 100% fussy about:
- Honouring every single commitment you make—even the miniscule ones that you might think don’t really matter.
- Being appropriately yet scrupulously transparent about communicating what you think and how you feel.
- Authentically and loyally respecting those with whom you interact. That includes not talking about a person behind their back rather than courageously communicating with them head on.
- Telling the truth—when it’s easier to fabricate something.
- Investing time in understanding the other person—and letting them know that you understand them. When the other person knows you understand what they think and how they feel, they’ll be more likely to trust you to take care of their interests.
- Being a predictable leader. Consistency is key—everything you say and do must align.
- Being a competent leader. Exemplary leaders continually refine and develop their leadership competencies.
If trust is to be flawless, you can’t slip up with any of these things—ever.
Your Leadership Call to Action To Optimise Trust
It’s clear that trust is a precious organisational attribute.
And given that trust is so critical to productivity and profits, what could you do to ensure that both your team members’ and your peers’ trust in you is as high as it could potentially be?
Will you check the seven bullet points above? Decide which you could step up with.
It’ll be worth it. As a result productivity will climb and the setting in which you work will feel one-hell-of-a-lot-better too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.