Fear and distrust can be a culture killer at work. The challenge for you, as a leader, is that the presenting issue doesn’t always look like the absence of trust. Here are some cues:
- You hear “crickets” when you ask for feedback in meetings.
- Departments in your organization don’t cooperate, much less collaborate, with one another and constantly miss deadlines.
- People play the “blame game” when something goes slightly off course.
- You don’t hear laughter echoing through the building much.
- Quality ideas on how to break through obstacles are scarce.
Looking for other signs of fear and distrust that lead to disengagement check these articles out.
The 8 Clear Signs of a Workplace Culture of Fear.
7 Signs You have Low-Trust Organization
5 Signs You Are Stuck in a Toxic Workplace
Now that you can identify a lack of trust at work the key is how to fix it.
In a high-trust work environment people feel safe to consistently share new ideas and thoughts. They don’t blame others for things that veer off course – they take responsibility for their part in the situation. When people at work deeply trust one another productivity is high, innovation is occurring, and obstacles are navigated quickly. People laugh when they trust one another. They feel safe to bring up issues that concern them and they demonstrate that they care and are willing to have the courage to be candid with one another when issues arise.
The secret to trust lies in understanding how our brain works and knowing what our level of Conversational Intelligence© is. There are 5 safety questions your brain is subconsciously asking that, when answered in a way that makes us feels safe, lead to trusting one another to be transparent, create a relationship in which we empathize and understand the other person’s point of view, and ultimately arrive at successful outcomes. The questions are:
- How do I protect myself, and do I need to?
- Who loves me, who hates me, and can I trust this person?
- Where do I belong and fit in?
- What do I need to learn to be successful?
- How do I create value with others?
Repairing a relationship at work will take time, effort, and an ability and willingness to actively listen to one another. It begins with being transparent about your intentions. Beginning a conversation with why you want what you want and why you are about do something leads to the other person not having to guess your intentions. We judge ourselves on our intentions and others on their actions. If you don’t tell someone why you are doing something and they just see you do it, they are left to assume the “why”. Not good.
TRY THIS TO REPAIR OR BUILD TRUST: Practice being aware of your level of transparency by noticing how people respond to you.
- Do you consistently do things and not tell anyone that you are going to do them, much less why?
- Do others consistently feel the need to quickly defend their actions when you discover something has gone wrong? They may feel like they need to protect themselves because of how you react to them when missteps occur at work.
- Have you told each of your team members recently and frequently that you trust them? If you don’t, why are they working for you? What do they need to do to build trust with you?
- Do the people that report to you know exactly where they fit in to your department, division and organization and have you told or shown them what they need to learn to be successful in that role?
- What have you done lately to let them know what value they are bringing to you and the organization?
Being highly aware of the safety questions and whether you are answering them for the person you want to engage and motivate is the first step to repairing and building trust.
If you don’t trust someone, why not? Do you always feel like you need to protect yourself or are you wondering whether they like you or not? Are you not sure where you fit in with them? Have they done something to violate your trust like not meet your standards, perhaps not demonstrate competency in their position, be late to commitments they made with you, or demonstrate that they are unreliable. It could be that they you feel that they don’t really care about you and are insincere when they say that they are. You may not trust them because you do not feel that their level of involvement in what you are doing is at a level that would create a trusting relationship. Might be time for a 10-minute sweaty conversation.
Trust is complicated. Once it has been jeopardized or violated it sure is tough to rebuild it. Experiences create beliefs that lead to the actions we take. To rebuild trust you will need to experience something different than you have in the past or have a conversation, or set of interactions, that build the belief that you can trust the person again.
The easiest way to nail this trust thing is to be highly aware of these aspects of trust and communicate what’s important to you at the beginning of a project or relationship. The more transparent you can be about what will build and jeopardize trust with you and the patience and caring you demonstrate to find out what’s important to the other person the likelihood of you having a winning outcome dramatically increases. Setting up processes that support those aspects ensures adherence to them.
To find out more, visit our Cortex Leadership Channel to listen to interviews with Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence.
ATTENTION HR DIRECTORS AND CEO’S: Becky did a story last Sunday night on her 10pm news broadcast on identifying signs of a hostile work environment. Here it is if you want to send it out to your managers this week. Could save you lots of time and money.
Our new Leading a Winning Team classes are designed to quickly teach you how to reach your maximum contribution level as a leader by developing your communication skills. Check out the Cortex Leading a Winning Team leadership syllabus. Not sure if it’s worth your time and money? Here’s what some recent graduates are saying about their experience in our programs.