Building the foundation of trust in the workplace

TRUST

Have each of your team members share which is their trust killer and why that is. It’s not about going into a long-winded debate on what’s right or wrong, but an opportunity to have everyone working from the same plans to get that foundation solid. My trust killer is ‘motive’ as I believe it is critical that anyone under my care feels that they are supported and will be given air cover when they feel that they are under attack, writes Mark LeBusque

A house built on a shaky foundation will eventually collapse – Toni Payne

Building foundations is the crucial starting point when it comes to building a house. Your foundations will safely distribute the weight of your new home and prevent the subsoil from spreading, avoiding an unequal settlement of the structure, which could lead to structural issues down the line. Mistakes at this stage could prove costly so it’s vital to make sure everyone is working from the same set of plans. Be prepared to be flexible if the excavation process reveals some surprising ground conditions.

It’s the same when a manager is building trust with and amongst their team.

Here’s my failsafe approach to building a strong foundation, it starts with a change of mindset and twelve very powerful words:

“You don’t have to gain my trust; you have it to lose.”

When I started the process of mind mapping the framework for building a truly human approach to management, what struck me most was the need for a “big word” to provide the footings that created the stability for an environment where sustainable success could be achieved.

When the focus on trust is based upon having to earn it by delivering transactional outputs then you’ve started to on a sandy shifting and shaky base. When there is the slightest movement, all will come crashing down.

I tried to be clever and come up with something grandiose; I kept landing back on the word TRUST as the “big word” that would provide the foundation to create a more human approach to managing individuals and teams. But there was far more to it than that.

As a ‘Human Manager,’ I had to decide on what I communicated to the team on the importance of trust to create an engaged and united group. This raised the following questions:

  • How does one shown some courage and communicate their position on trust to a group of people they have not worked directly with before?
  • 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 they had to earn my trust over time, and that I would let them know the precise moment this had occurred?

“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 first – Harold McMillan

To extend upon that, I looked at three components to trust and focussed on the one that I declared my ‘trust killer’. This was the component that, if broken, would result in a fracturing of the trust contract and creating some surprising ground conditions.

The Three 3 Elements of A Trust Contract:

  • Motive – do you have my back?
  • Capability – can you do the job?
  • Reliability – do you do what you say you will?

Have each of your team members share which is their trust killer and why that is. It’s not about going into a long-winded debate on what’s right or wrong, but an opportunity to have everyone working from the same plans to get that foundation solid.

Building foundations is the crucial starting point when it comes to building a house. Mistakes at this stage could prove costly so it’s vital to make sure everyone is working from the same set of plans

My trust killer is ‘motive’ as I believe it is critical that anyone under my care feels that they are supported and will be given air cover when they feel that they are under attack. I assume that they are capable of doing their job, just as I assume they turn up with good intent to do what they say they will do.

This mindset ensures that I am not second-guessing what might happen next and become distracted by looking to protect myself by interfering with my people doing the work that is best done by them.

You see, many managers have ‘capability’ as their trust killer.

This is an old-style view based on how they would be viewed by others (their manager) if one of the team members failed to deliver due to an issue with capability or competence. It removes any form of experimentation, challenge, or innovation, as everyone looks to play a safe game to impress the manager.

Capability as the trust killer in a more human environment is akin to building the house on a shaky foundation.

When the focus on trust is based upon having to earn it by delivering transactional outputs then you’ve started to on a sandy shifting and shaky base. When there is the slightest movement, all will come crashing down.

Here again, are the twelve words that will serve you and your team well and ensure you have the footings to allow that house of trust to stand the test of whatever conditions it endures:

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

What’s your approach to trust?

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