Trust Building At Work

Building trust is the #1 predictor of high performance in business today. Why?

The world of work has changed. Trust is to business today, what capital was to business in 1970. The modern workplace is flat, decentralized, virtual, collaborative, and changing VERY fast. It requires:

Teamwork, collaboration, and cross-cultural diversity, regardless of your size or industry.

Treating people well and ensuring they are fully empowered and informed – whether they are an employee or a customer.

Speed as competitive advantage, a constant tightrope walk between “executing today’s expectations” and “creating new ideas for tomorrow.”

As Charles Green writes in Forbes (Why Trust is the New Core of Leadership, 4-3-2012):

“In such a world, vertical power-based leadership becomes less relevant. The key success factor becomes the ability to persuade someone over whom you have no power to collaborate with you in pursuit of a common mission. Leaders can no longer trust in power; instead, they rely on the power of trust.”

Here are 10 concrete actions you can take to foster higher trust in your workplace:

  1. Ask for Help or Offer to Help. People love to feel needed … or be asked “How can I support you, directly or indirectly?”
  2. Clear the Air. When conflict, misunderstanding or confusion arises – with a boss, colleague, or peer – take time to clear the air and own your part. High performing cultures teach, expect, and do this.
  3. Implement an Idea – from a colleague or employee: Even if it’s not the best idea, it shows they are important and you’re listening.
  4. Own Your Weakness – in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way (not a weepy victim-y way. “I sometimes struggle to get the details right. Thanks for catching that.” This shows that it’s OK not to be perfect, and that we support each other. Very important in building trust.
  5. Ask “What do you think about _________?” This single question, asked sincerely (followed by intent listening) builds a LOT of trust (and forges greater creativity).
  6. Revive the Suggestion Box, the old-fashioned kind. Start implementing the suggestions. When you do, suggestions become open and less secretive… a sign trust is being built.
  7. Schedule Social Time. When people eat together, share stories of their personal lives, they create a bond. This is essential to high performance. Make time to “hang” with people on your team (without a work agenda) at least 1-2 times per month.
  8. Humble Yourself by speaking the truth about a fear or concern. WITHOUT blaming anyone. “I feel worried I’m not leading the testing process in the best way on the new release. Can we brainstorm about it?” This builds trust by providing permission to share thoughts your colleagues or employees have on their mind, but are afraid to say.
  9. Apologize for your mistakes. (Not for making them, but for the impact on a person – especially if your actions were out of line.)
  10. Say “Thank You” … For anything – really. Multiple times per day, if possible. (Be sincere and specific.)

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