Should managers re-imagine or re-establish trust in the workplace?

Old school thinking that ‘trust must be earned’ means that humans are continually trying to either prove themselves or they are spending energy watching for mistakes to confirm a story that someone can or can’t be trusted, writes Mark LeBusque

Trust.

Have I got your attention? The ‘T’ word has really found its way to the top of the ‘importance pile’ over the past twelve months for the majority of organisations that are hell bent of re-establishing trust in the workplace.

Trust is one of the most critical factors in hiring and keeping the right people. It creates a point of difference in your product or service offer, drives engagement and discretionary effort, taps into creativity and collaboration, and ultimately drives sustainable business results.

It plays out is many ways, from creating a safe environment where one feels that others have their back, and being confident that you’ve hired the right people with the right skills and behaviours to get the job done in an efficient and productive manner.

Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what might befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine and reconsider – Paul Hawken

Energy is not infinite, and it’s important to use it wisely and keep some stored for those times when you may face challenging situations. Running the tank too low on activities that don’t require it will put you at risk of focussing good energy after bad activity where it isn’t needed.

One such area is how you approach the topic of trust in your business.

Managers waste far too much energy by following an outdated idea that trust must be earned and not given. In fact, the window of changing the mindset totally on trust is wide open right now.

What if we took this post-COVID opportunity to not just re-establish trust, but instead re-imagine trust Many things have changed forever in the past twelve months, so why not reconsider our approach to trust. Rather than re-establishing trust, there’s more power in re-imagining.

What if managers and organisations adopted the following twelve words:

‘You don’t have to earn my trust; you have to lose it…’

It’s called trusting implicitly.

Old school thinking that ‘trust must be earned’ means that humans are continually trying to either prove themselves or they are spending energy watching for mistakes to confirm a story that someone can or can’t be trusted.

Think of it like this, if you will.

Do you think there are humans in your business that turn up each day with the intention of destroying your business?

It’s absurd to even go down this pathway, however, that’s what is at play when we go down the ‘trust has to be earned’ pathway. We spend too much energy on focussing on looking for the bad instead of assuming that the employees are well intentioned and want to do good for the business. Why did you hire someone in the first place?

 “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” The surest way to earn the trust of employees is to show them that you trust them in return – Harold McMillan.

The whole WFH experiment seems to have dispelled the myth that ‘if I can’t see you, I can’t trust you…’, and it is time to take these new found beliefs and create work environments where as a manager, you are courageous enough to utter those twelve words.

As a manager, you have to decide where to spend your energy and where to store it for when it’s going to be needed most.

If you have been caught up on the old school thinking, then you will have to spend some energy to change by facing into the following questions:

  • What is the personal risk associated with being too trusting of others?
  • Is it ‘soft’ to show your hand too early and be disappointed when things didn’t play out as you hoped they would?
  • Why not just tell them all they had to earn your trust over time and let them know the precise moment this had occurred?

These are all energy depleting activities.

It all comes back to a change of mindset and these twelve words: ‘You don’t have to earn my trust; you have to lose it…’

Trusting implicitly allows you to keep a full tank of energy to be used when it’s really needed, and will build deeper connection, stronger employee engagement and ultimately better business outcomes. There is no better opportunity than right now to move from a mindset of re-establishing to re-imagining trust.

Will you take the opportunity or miss it?

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