Trust, it’s fairly common knowledge that we all want to be trusted. It’s the basis of most relationships. We teach our kids to be honest and trustworthy. We want to trust our spouses.
And we need that same level of trust in our organization because we are family and work is a commitment. We know engagement and retention are tied to trust, so why are engagement and retention numbers so low?
It’s not all about a lack of trust but trust plays a huge role. I have statistical data, studies and surveys that I will share with you but from a direct perspective, I work with job seekers of all levels all the time, and when I ask them what’s brought them into the job market, it’s usually an issue of trust.
A new leader was hired and they are making some broad sweeping changes.
My co-workers don’t like me and they are making my life miserable.
I have not gotten a promotion in 3 years but they consistently ask me to do more work.
I have been overlooked several times and each time I get a flimsy excuse.
And on and on but if you examine each of these scenario you will find that at the basis of each is trust. What these folks are saying is “I do NOT trust you to promote me, protect me, develop me, or keep me .”
The Building Trust 2013: Workforce Trends Defining High Performance study which compiled information from 400 professionals from 290 companies from all over the world, examines the relationship between leadership and trust and of course they are correlated.
It goes on to offer tips like, “Be Transparent” and “Get the Staff Involved”, etc.
Then there’s the 2 constructs or competencies of office trust by Dr. Duane C. Tway; the capacity of trusting, the perception of competence, and perception of intentions. – read more here.
And the last one that will share is from the Harvard Business Review, where they ask a couple of professors and CEOs about the importance of trust and they site things like, “Make a connection”, “Be transparent and truthful”, “Encourage rather than command” and my favorite “Take blame not credit”.
I hurry past these experts’ contributions not because they are no good – they are good and they are accurate but WE ALREADY KNOW THESE THINGS.
So what are we missing? The short answer is…the truth. Transparency and honesty are necessarily the same thing. Have you ever had your favorite boss tell you the company is doing fine and everything is great only to quit a short time later? They didn’t lie to you, and maybe they were being transparent but how does that make you feel? Do you trust them? How about the company?
Have you ever been told during a performance review that if you get a degree or certification you would eligible for a raise only to invest in a program and earn that new credential and still get denied?
How about this one, have you ever worked someplace and they hired a bunch of new people and promoted them over you?
Companies destroy trust all the time. It happens so often that workers are extremely skeptical and suspicious. They go into new situations praying that they won’t have to deal with liars, office politicians, and backstabbers but all too often they do.
And to be fair, some employees are just nasty. They are cynical, grumpy, mistrusting, and just plain mean. With more and more people falling into the snarky, smart ass, selfish category it’s hard to determine good people from bad ones.
So, can you trust your employees?
No, you can’t. Trust is earned. Just as you must earn their trust by always looking out for their best interests. For example, have you heard of Hamdi Ulukaya? He’s the CEO of Chobani Yogurt and gave his employees a stake in the company with stock options worth about $100,000 each. I bet just about all of those employees love and trust him.
But on the flip side, have you heard of Elizabeth Holmes? She founded a startup medical technology company called Theranos. At one point the company was worth $4.5B and after some major missteps, questions of ethics and leadership and most importantly problems with the reliability of the product, the company was downgraded. Investors and business partners have been jumping ship and now the company is worth zero (after deducting loans and losses). Do think there is a lot of trust at Theranos right now?
Run your company with ethics. Treat your people with respect. Earn and keep their trust and you will have no problems trusting employees.
(it’s that simple)