What creates it & how do you maintain it today?
Trust is the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something. Trust is built and maintained by many small actions over time. Trust is telling the truth, even when it is difficult, and being honest, authentic, and reliable in your dealings with customers and employees. Trust exists on many levels in an organization: with the direct manager, with the leadership, with the team and with the company.
Individuals must have a capacity for trust based on his/her experiences (with the current manager and company as well as with previous employers). The experiences we each have develop or diminish the capacity and willingness to risk trusting others. In the current business environment, there is a continuing decline of trust in companies and leadership overall. Employees watch the news, hear stories and wonder constantly if “it” (being laid off, denied a promotion or raise, having their project stopped, shutting down the company, etc.) is going to happen to them.
Individuals must perceive and believe in the ability of others they work with to perform competently at whatever is needed. During tough times, this belief in others tends to erode especially when communications are lacking concerning how changes impact the organization and success. Couple that with the increasing amount of communication about all the problems in the economy and you quickly have a lopsided equation with the negative far outweighing the positive. Employees are deeply concerned about who is going to be the next company or ‘leader’ exposed in some sort of scandal or unethical behavior.
Lastly, but incredibly important to trust, is a belief that the actions, words, direction, mission, and/or decisions are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving motives. Employees have to know you care about them and are considering their best interests as well as the company’s. During tough times, there is an even greater likelihood that employees will fill in the blanks with negative intentions if they are not getting constant communication about what is going on, how the company will still win and what is in it for them to stay, work hard and remain productive. In almost every breakroom around the country today, employees are wondering how some leaders and senior managers are asking for and getting multi-million dollar bonuses as they are laying off employees and their businesses are failing by every measure. What kind of beliefs does an individual have to justify that sort of behavior and why would you expect that they will ever consider your interests?
There are critical leadership & management behaviors to build and grow trust in today’s environment: