Ff you’re a leader, here’s a composite of things your staff would like you to know, and five areas where you can start building trust today:
Actions speak. Behavioral integrity is the alignment between what you say and what you do. How’s yours? Let’s say you announce a cost cutting measure that includes eliminating business class for international travel, but you exempt yourself and upper management from following it. No alignment—no credibility. No credibility—no trust. Employees are watching for the honesty between leaders’ words and deeds. Behavioral integrity demonstrates trustworthiness. Start there.
Not HR’s problem to fix. Distrust can’t be fixed by programs. Better recognition, more push communication, or enhanced training won’t build trust or mutual respect. There are problems with some leaders and problems with some staff. But finger pointing, blaming, perpetuating an “us vs. them” mentality exacerbates the problem. Bottom line? We need each other. Disengagement costs jobs and profits. What’s needed is a balanced understanding of our mutual worth. Start there.
Own your part. You’re under pressure to meet goals and quarterly numbers, but initiative is killed with terse emails and escalating demands. If you operate as a medieval warlord with refrains like “just make it happen” or “I don’t care what it takes” that command-and-control approach won’t yield the results you want. Plus, check the plaques. Those words heralding employees as your most important asset are viewed as a lie, because this isn’t the way to treat a valued asset. Make the statement true or take it down. Start there.
Manage to the 90%. It’s backwards to write rules, limit sound practices and make short-term decisions with long term business impact around a delinquent few. That communicates distrust to the other 90% of committed, trustworthy, and hard working employees. When you orient to what’s wrong rather than what’s right you communicate distrust to everyone. Shift your perspective. Start there.
Give it to get it. Giving trust is a choice you make when you put confidence in or rely on someone else. Trust begins by giving trust, just like love begins by loving, respect by respecting others, and communication by sharing information. You get trust by giving it.Start there.