Gauging Trust in Your Work Relationships

How do you gauge the strength of the working relationships you have with your fellow colleagues, your subordinates, and your boss? 

When I gauge the strength of my relationships, it all comes down to trust.  The trust I have in others and the trust they have in me.  If a high level of trust exists in our relationship, then I will seek out opportunities to work with you and our work together falls naturally and comfortably into a synchronized productive rhythm.  We exchange thoughts and ideas, challenge each other and collaboratively develop solutions.  All of our collective energy goes into the work, not the relationship. 

But if trust doesn’t exist, it’s a completely different story.  Initially I will continuously drag my feet to work with you, and I’ll begin to find ways to guard and protect myself.  I’ll spend significant amounts of energy questioning your interests, desires and motives rather than directing my energy into the assignment we need to tackle.

My approach and the productivity difference is discerning.

According to Stephen Covey, “trust is the foundation of everything we do and the key leadership competency of the new global economy.”  I truly couldn’t agree more. 

So why then is so little time invested on trust in our workplace?  No framework, no vocabulary.  No practical and understandable way to assess it, build it, maintain it, and most importantly repair it when it’s damaged.  After all, all relationships are imperfect. 

Most people (myself included) can’t articulate how strong trust gets built in some relationships and not in others.  Attempted explanations are nothing more than a historical collection of successes or transgressions that lead to our verdict. 

Building trust is critically important. 

We all need a framework and vocabulary to guide our discussions with those we work, and when I went looking for one, that’s when I read Charlees Feltman’s book. Charles is the author of The Thin Book of Trust.  The Thin Book of Trust was just what I was looking for – a simple framework of rich practical content in 64 concise pages. 

Stephen Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, while excellent too, is roughly 365 pages long. 

According to Charles book there are four primary components of trust:

  • Sincerity – I mean what I say, say what I mean, and act accordingly.
  • Reliability – I meet my commitments and you can count on me to deliver what I say.
  • Competence – I have the ability to do what is being proposed. I have the requisite capacity, skill, knowledge and resources.
  • Care – I have your interests in mind when I make decisions or take actions. 

These four components create a common language for openly discussing trust – the trust you have in others and they have in you.  If all four components exist, then that relationship would be mutually regarded as a high value trust relationship.  And when discussing mistrust, these four components allow you to be specific about why trust doesn’t exist.  That specificity is valuable to the other person because it will guide them on how to rebuild trust with you, and vice versa.

Having a common vocabulary about such an important topic in the workplace is invaluable.  It brings the topic of trust out into the open.  And candid and open dialogue is trust-building in itself. 

So if you’re struggling with trust in your work relationships I highly suggest hitting Amazon and picking up a copy of the book. If you are the leader of an organization that has trust issues and can benefit from a training session please reach out to us. At MCDA CCG, Inc. we can tailor a fun and interactive training session to bring out the best in your team and get trust up to the top of the priority list. We offer training both on-site and online. Contact us today at (714) 872-2393 or directly at mike@mcdaccginc.com

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