Trust in the Workplace

SpeedofTrustDeanna Laguna our Director of Operations has recently attended a leadership conference and has eloquently presented concepts at our hospital meetings about trust in the workplace and how it impacts business activity. I am grateful to take this opportunity to share with you Deanna’s insights on this very important topic.

In my most recent leadership seminar an entire day was spent on the topic of trust in the workplace. It became readily apparent how valuable trust becomes in a work setting and its impact on the bottom line. The book “The Speed of Trust” identifies the benefits of high trusting environments and the shortcomings of low-trusting environments.

Organizational trust is demonstrated through the symbols of a company such as a policy & procedures manual and your leadership team. When leadership adopts the following 13 behaviors as described in “The Speed of Trust”, your organization shall embody a high trusting environment. It is important for us to recognize that people judge us by our behavior and not our intent.

The 13 behaviors that provoke trust in the workplace are:

  1. Talk Straight – Most employees do not believe their bosses communicate honestly. This makes costs for the company to rise significantly due to poor communications and inefficiencies. Don’t hide your agenda so people don’t waste time trying to decipher truth from spin.
  2. Demonstrate Respect – Our actions should show we care and are sincere. The little things that we do for others demonstrate concern and respect for the individual.
  3. Create Transparency – Tell the truth in a way it can be verified. Part of transparency is sharing information. If ever in question, err on the side of disclosure.
  4. Right Wrongs – To right a wrong is much more than apologizing. It involves restitution. With clients or customers it may be a small gift with a sincere apology. It’s the principle of going the “extra” mile and showing how much you value your relationship with others.
  5. Show Loyalty – Give credit to others. As a leader you need to give credit to the individuals responsible for success. A leader should never take credit for the hard work of others.
  6. Deliver Results – The fastest way to build trust with clients or customers is to deliver results. Results give you instant credibility and trust. A problem exists when delivering activities instead of results.
  7. Get better – When others see you continually learning and adapting to change, they become more confident in your ability to lead in the future. Two suggestions to always get better is to first, seek honest feedback from others around you, and second, learn from your mistakes.
  8. Confront Reality – If we are honest about the difficult issues we face and are addressing them head-on, people will trust us.
  9. Clarify Expectations – This is a proactive measure, because if expectations are not clearly defined up front, speed of the transaction and trust are diminished. Wasted time due to poor clarification and misunderstood expectations creates a dilemma for all involved.
  10. Practice Accountability – Holding others accountable allows performers to feel good about the job they are doing. It also increases trust by assuring performers that slackers and poor performers will not undermine their efforts.
  11. Listen First – Listening before prescribing builds trust. Trying to give advice before knowing all the facts is a waste of time and simply not fair. Not listening gives the impression that what you have to say is not important.
  12. Keep Commitments – When you make a commitment you build hope. When you keep a commitment you build trust.
  13. Extend Trust – We should extend trust to those who have either earned it or are committed to earning it. The number one responsibility of all leaders is to engender trust throughout the work place.

It is important to focus on trust because without trust doing business simply costs you more.

The 7 Low -Trust Organizational TaxesTM to be avoided at all costs.

  1. Redundancy: A costly redundancy tax is often paid in excessive organizational hierarchy, layers of management and overlapping structures designed to ensure control.
  2. Bureaucracy: Bureaucracy includes complex and cumbersome rules, regulations, policies, procedures and processes.
  3. Politics: Office politics divide a culture against itself. The result is wasted time, talent, energy, and money. In addition, they poison company cultures, derail strategies and sabotage initiatives, relationships and careers.
  4. Disengagement: Disengagement occurs when people put in enough effort to avoid getting fired but don’t contribute their talent, creativity, energy or passion.
  5. Turnover: Employee turnover represents a huge cost, and in low-trust companies, turnover is in excess of the industry standard – particularly of the people you least want to lose. Performers like to be trusted and they like to work in high-trust environments.
  6. Churn: Churn is the turnover of stakeholders other than employees. When trust inside an organization is low, it gets perpetuated in interactions in the marketplace, causing great turnover among customers, suppliers, distributors and investors.
  7. Fraud: Fraud is flat out dishonesty, sabotage, obstruction, deception and disruption – and the cost is enormous.

The 7 High-Trust Organizational DividendsTM found in trusting organizations are:

  1. Increased value: Watson Wyatt shows high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations in total return to shareholders by 286 percent.
  2. Accelerated growth: Research clearly shows customers buy more, buy more often, refer more and stay longer with companies they trust.
  3. Enhanced innovation: High creativity and sustained innovation thrive in a culture of high trust. The benefits of innovation are clear – opportunity, revenue growth, and market share.
  4. Improved collaboration: High-trust environments foster the collaboration and teamwork required for success in the new global economy. Without trust, collaboration is mere coordination or, at best, cooperation.
  5. Stronger partnering: A Warwick Business School study shows that partnering relationships that are based on trust experience a dividend of up to 40 percent of the contract.
  6. Better execution: In a 2006 study of grocery stores, top executing locations had significantly higher trust levels than lower executing locations in every dimension measured.
  7. Heightened loyalty: High-trust companies elicit far greater loyalty from their primary stakeholders than low-trust companies. Employees, customers, suppliers, distributors and investors stay longer.

In management settings, trust in the workplace increases information sharing, openness, fluidity, and cooperation. If co- workers can be trusted to do the right thing and live up to their commitments, then planning, coordination, and execution are much easier. Trust also facilitates the exchange and acceptance of ideas and boosts the quantity and quality of the ideas that are produced within an organization. Most important, trust provides the opportunity to change people’s attitudes and beliefs, not just their outward behavior.

Organizational Trust

In addition to Deanna’s thoughts on trust in the workplace I would like to comment on trust of disclosure, capability and ability.

When there are high levels of trust in the workplace communications are more open which encourages more meaningful dialogue and exchange of information. Leaders must engage in conversation to find out what matters to others and let them know what is on your mind. This heightened level of disclosure enhances the quality and quantity of contributions that people will make to the organization.

Respecting people’s knowledge and skills is showing trust in their capabilities. The more you trust an individual’s judgment the less need for control and the more time you can spend in helping others develop new skills. Your investment in people and unconditional commitment to their edification creates loyalty and trust. Shinning that light on another’s path never fails to bring light onto your own.

In conclusion, the biggest gift you can offer anyone is opening the door for individuals to trust themselves. With your guidance and mentor-ship you give people a chance to use their judgment and affect their work in a positive way, resulting in enhanced contributions and strategic advantages to any organization.

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