Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trust is always earned, never given.”

Trust is always earned, never given." – R. Williams.

Do you trust your team? Do you think they trust you?

How much does a lack of trust impact your projects and daily work life? How much effort would you give for someone you don't trust?

Take a look around your workplace. Is there a lot of – often inaccurate – gossiping? Do people only approach other colleagues or managers about issues, not you? Have you seen a drop in initiative and a rise in employee turnover? Do people seem defensive, even fearful?

If yes, you've got a few problems within your team.

Thankfully, though, there are some easy ways to boost trust; ways that are relatively painless to achieve, but which last for the long term. In fact, as Steven Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", states, "Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience ..."

Trust starts with you
There are three characteristics you should always show when running a team: integrity, competence and leadership.[1 ]

To put it in the most clichéd way, "If you talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk." Once people think you have no integrity and you're not trustworthy, you've lost them.

As such, you should always strive to:
  1. Effectively communicate. Always openly communicate by being positive, seeking others' ideas, listening and disclosing the right thing at the right time.
  2. Be honest and consistent. Tell the truth, share information, be a role model and do what you'd like them to do: show up on time, work hard and if you say you're going to do something, do it.
  3. Show good judgement. Protect personal information and don't gossip.
  4. Watch your body language. If you say, "I defended you with every fibre of my being," while not looking them in the eyes, fidgeting and stiffening up your body and face … no one's going to believe you.
  5. Remember, it's not all about "you". Listen and respond with empathy, promote open communication and beneficial relationships, and always accept constructive criticism.
  6. Get to know your team. Spend time with them and share your thoughts, feelings and rationale – even ask for help.
  7. Promote ethical standards. Develop an atmosphere free of harassment and discrimination while promoting "honesty, fairness, mutual respect and trust, and compassion and sensitivity in the exercise of power".[2]
And within your team, strive to ensure that:
  • Positive and affirming behaviour is the norm
  • There's an atmosphere of encouragement (support and praise)
  • You protect and help each other
  • Gossip and unfair criticism stops
  • You celebrate your diversity and appreciate your differences and skills
With a team that trusts and respects each other, you'll quickly experience:
  • Increased efficiency as everyone knows that their colleagues will carry out their responsibilities, leaving them to better focus on their own
  • Enhanced unity, which comes from trusting each other, and helps strengthen their overall focus and commitment
  • Mutual motivation with everyone striving to gain – and retain – the trust of their colleagues.
All of which can only help motivate each employee to do their very best!

At the end of the day, just remember: you're in it together. You should trust them, and you should give them every reason to trust you.

[1] Kouzes, J.M & Posner, B.Z. The Leadership Challenge: How to Get Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1990.
[2] Badaracco, J.L. & Ellsworth, R.R. Leadership and the Quest for Integrity. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1989.

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about me

Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
salako a. sunday is a banking professional with interest in busines technology, mobility and social media.