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In his book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ Patrick Lencioni puts absence of trust in pole position. Trust is the cornerstone of all successful and sustainable relationships. In the workplace, an absence of trust creates a team devoid of commitment, accountability and the ability to collaborate.
In an environment founded on trust, employees, leaders and managers are better able to:
Give and receive credible feedback effectively
Be open to new information and be constantly learning
Engage with transformational change
Coach more effectively
Be more empathetic with their colleagues
With so much to gain, it is critical to build trust to lead effectively.
There are two types of trust.
The first is practical, the type of trust that is demonstrated by the confidence that colleagues or employees will do what they are tasked to do. They turn up on time, get their work done, and adhere to the organization’s policies, procedures and rules.
The second type of trust is far deeper. Emotional trust enables people to be vulnerable with colleagues, knowing that they will be empathetic and non-judgemental. It breeds honesty, openness and respect. It empowers people to take risks, admit mistakes and ask for help, without fear of negative repercussions.
High-performing teams are founded on emotional trust.
An absence of trust is evidenced in behaviors. People who don’t trust others double-check work that others have done. Mistrusted people are not invited to confidential meetings or social events.
If mistrust is widespread in a team, department or organization, it is often because of the actions of managers and leaders. Such actions include:
Over-promising and under-delivering
Taking credit for the work of others
Behaviors are not aligned with organizational values
When leaders and managers cannot be relied upon, credibility is damaged. A lack of trust in leadership can quickly develop into a wider and harmful culture of mistrust.
Trusted leaders are credible, reliable and personal. By these virtues, leaders create an environment in which employees trust their leaders, their colleagues and themselves. There are many ways in which leaders can develop the virtues of trust that build trust. Here are a few tips:
Always tell the truth, even if it means admitting a mistake or vulnerability. If you have missed a deadline or not read an urgent email, be accountable for your mistake – and learn from it. Being able to admit mistakes improves credibility.
Many leaders believe it to be a sign of weakness to show vulnerability or admit that they don’t know the answer. In fact, admitting weaknesses is the first step to turning them into strengths. It is also an opportunity to get others involved and engaged in the tasks required to achieved team goals. People who fake their abilities are quickly found out.
Always do what you say you will. Turn up to a social event or team meeting. Hit the deadlines you have set. While mistakes happen and the unforeseen occurs, if you continually neglect to do what you say you will, people will accept this as your normal behavior and behavior that is acceptable from them. Be reliable as a leader.
If something is your responsibility, make sure you retain that responsibility even if you delegate the task. Commitment is demonstrated best by being held accountable. Your employees will expect you to do what you are meant to, and they will follow this example in their role.
Discuss your ideas, strategies, goals and thought processes with your team. Communication is the key to employee engagement, and employees engage when you explain not only what you are doing, but why you are doing.
You must give trust to receive trust. By showing others that you trust them, they will be more likely to trust you.
Don’t expect people to offer their perspectives and insight. In team meetings, encourage people to participate by sharing more and asking for feedback. Listen to what is being said, and ask for clarification. Ask questions and speak only when your words add value to the conversation. Resist the temptation to direct the conversation, but instead guide it.
Trust is the foundation on which high-performing teams are built. When your organisation’s culture is founded on trust, you’ll find that teams work more collaboratively, and accountability is accepted. Your employees will strive to reach collective goals and share knowledge, experience and ideas.
The culture of trust starts with your organization’s leader and managers. If your employees trust your senior people, they will embrace trust as a guiding value within the workplace. If you have any questions, contact us today.
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