Trust goes both ways; it’s not a one way street; it takes long to build and is easily broken. Trust is the glue that makes family units, teams, organisations or communities stick together. Trust leads to less energy required to do something. Trust increases employee engagement. Trust increases learning so vital during change. And trust underpins the success of a high performing organisation. So much of my work involves working with teams on trust because it has been broken so many times.
There are three necessities to build trust:
- Competence in the job role;
- Authenticity in leaders and employees; and
- Organisational conditions and expectations.
A person is trustworthy if they have or gain the skills, experience and knowledge for the job they are employed to do. What matters here is recruitment that matches the organisations culture (for reputation) and technical skills (to execute the job). Building competence is done through skills development and consistent and ongoing performance management reviews. So many organisations either have none or only a biannual or annual review! But what happens in between? Making performance management a frequent occasion that relates to employees immediate work is less cumbersome and time consuming. And the frequent dialogue and feedback brings quicker results. It also shows competence in managing staff.
Trust is created by people who walk the talk; by people whose words and actions are the same and without pretence. Authenticity is a character trait we all find in ourselves if we want to. Whenever I run a workshop on trust, character exposes the biggest gaps between what employees see as their team’s strengths and challenges. Interestingly authenticity is often considered less important than other traits such as honesty and openness. Yet, you cannot be authentic without them. Authenticity comes from the heart and living your unique self. It creates a shining light others want to follow. People with ego get blinded by and fear this light. Personal development helps overcome this fear. But it means looking at yourself in the mirror and gain insights from feedback, self-reflection, and meditation or mindfulness.
For trustworthiness to flourish an organisation needs to set the right conditions. They must
- give employees freedom to do their work;
- ensure equality in action;
- hold employees at all levels accountable for the results of their work;
- develop fair and transparent processes that are applied consistently; and
- create open and transparent communications and decision making systems so people understand why they undertake the work.