Trust makes or breaks any relationship. While trust takes time to build its eroded in an instant. For example, you have a great idea you share with Sarah, your co-worker, whose opinion you value. Both of you commit to bringing the idea to fruition and then you find out Sarah took credit for your idea. No matter how much you loved Sarah before, you’ll most likely never trust her again.
Trust destructors are easy to find all around you – a boss who repeatedly promises to promote you and doesn’t, or a major change happens in your company and no one talks about it while everyone is impacted, or a seemingly strong leader simply can’t make critical decisions.
EY, a global consultancy, surveyed 9,800 employees employed full time across companies in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US and found out that less than half of employees trust their employer, boss or team or colleagues. What erodes trust includes unfair compensation, unequal pay and promotion, lack of leadership, high employee turnover and a work environment that is not conducive to collaboration.
3 key elements to ensuring you build an environment of trust:
- Honestly assess YOU – Creating trust takes a deep level of self-awareness. Fear and trust cannot co-exist, you either have one or the other, consciously or unconsciously you choose. Fear is certainly a drain on productivity. When people are afraid they default to their worst qualities and your ghastlier self is amplified. If you want to eliminate fear you must focus on your own self development. You will never know your impact unless you have the desire to grow yourself transparently and authentically. Know yourself in order to lead powerfully.
- Success is theirs and the challenge is yours – Ensure the successes of the team is owned by them and not you. As the leader of the team, be generous with praise. Although some might contribute more or less, it still takes a team to achieve. Consistently acknowledging them in public and private settings strengthens trust. By not creating an environment of recognition and appreciation you run the risk of losing valuable employees. When challenges come to the team, take responsibility for it first, being self-reflective by examining what actions you took to contribute to the situation at hand.
- Communication opens the door of trust – Communication continually ranks as one of the top areas where organizations can improve. Speaking the truth, not a decorated and glossed up version of the truth with either political buzzwords or complete disregard for the audience to which you are speaking, builds a foundation of trust. Acknowledging your own vulnerabilities and missteps is a tremendous bridge builder. Imagine if every leader who messed up said, “I made a mistake. I handled that poorly. I learned from it and would like you to also learn from it so I don’t do it and we never do this again because these were the results”. Now that is courageous leadership.
Don’t forget: trust takes a long time to earn, and an instant to destroy. Keep building up your team with both small and meaningful interactions, sometimes the small actions are as just as important as the big ones.