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“Trust Me”

Have you heard these words before either from someone you just met or someone you’ve known for years? What is your response? Do you trust this person automatically or does this person have to earn your trust? And, who trusts you? Why?

In today’s workplace, trust is a big concern as more pressure is placed on leaders and employees to deal with economic pressures and an uncertain future. Building a culture of trust expands the level of contribution each of us can make. Yet, many people are not sure where they should place their trust as more and more examples of leaders who have taken advantage of others’ trust come to the surface. What can you do as a leader in this environment?

James S. Coleman offers a four-part definition of trust behavior from the perspective of social theory in his book “Foundations of Social Theory”:

  1. Placement of trust allows actions [based on incomplete information] that otherwise are not possible.
  2. If the person in whom trust is placed (trustee) is trustworthy then the trustor will be better off than if he or she had not trusted. Conversely, if the trustee is not trustworthy, then the trustor will be worse off than if he or she had not trusted.
  3. Trust is an action that involves a voluntary transfer of resources (physical, financial, intellectual, or temporal) from the trustor to the trustee with no real commitment from the trustee.
  4. A time lag exists between the extension of trust and the result of the trusting behavior.

The strength of Coleman’s definition is that it allows for a discussion of trust behavior.

In early 2000 Development Dimensions International (DDI) completed a study entitled “Trust in the Workplace” (CLICK HERE  to read the report).

In this report the formula for trust is described as: Business Competence + People Orientation = TRUST.

The first half of the equation, business competence, is generally easy to observe and evaluate and is oftentimes the reason a person advances to leadership. You can and should readily re-tool your business competence to deal with changes in the market and in your industry.

The second half of the equation, people orientation, tends to be a challenge for many leaders to adjust and improve. People orientation is described as having three components: 1) a fundamental belief in people, 2) open communication and 3) consistent behavior. These three components are the most critical for building trust with employees.

It is our people orientation that we need to evaluate, particularly in these turbulent times. As a leader, ask yourself:

  • Do I believe that people have a deep-rooted need to do a good job and that people are honest and can be trusted?
  • Do I remove barriers that prevent my employees from fully actualizing their potential?
  • Do I take time to explain?
  • Do I know the strengths, needs and stress behavior of my employees?
  • Do I take the time to engage in coaching employees so they can perform at the highest level?
  • Am I consistent in my actions, decisions and moods?
  • When I don’t have the answer, do I say so and find the answer?
  • Do I keep my promises?

If you answered all of these questions in the affirmative, your effectiveness in people orientation is high. And how many of us score a perfect ten every hour of every day? As leaders, we are pulled in many directions and sometimes, we take our employees for granted. Make a commitment to build trust with your employees. Strive to move the needle on these questions to a “yes”. Start today.

People Possibilities provides one-on-one coaching by fully trained, certified and experienced business and executive coaches. Our coaches offer the fresh viewpoint of an objective third party who has worked at senior levels in organizations. We can assist you and your leaders to develop more effective leadership behaviors. If you would like to find out whether a coaching program is right for you, please contact us.

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