“If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you.” ~ Zig Ziglar
What’s the difference between a bad and a good organization? How about the difference between a good and a great organization? How about the differences between bad, good, and great leaders? Clearly there are many elements that differentiate organizations, including their leaders, their people, the work they’re doing, the work environment, and much more. Likewise, with leaders there are elements such as knowledge, capabilities, abilities to understand and explain, abilities to work well with people, and much more. However, I postulate that one of the biggest differentiators between bad, good, and great organizations and likewise with leaders is the level of trust that exists in those organizations and with those leaders. For organizations and leaders to operate effectively there must be trust.
"Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience, and it doesn't preclude the necessity to train and develop peple so that their competency can rise to the level of that trust." ~ Stephen Covey: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
What has been your experience when you work with people who you truly trust? It has been my experience that in such situations you really look forward to going to work and to working with people you know and trust. You believe that as a team you can conquer the world.
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” ~ George MacDonald
“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” ~ Booker T. Washington
“The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.” ~ Henry L. Stimson
“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” ~ Rita Mae Brown
What has been your experience when you work with people who you don’t really trust? Does that change when that person is your boss? It has been my experience that when I don’t trust my co-workers or my boss, the working relationship is strained, the stress levels are high, and the work results are often not as good as you would like them to be. You often feel that you have to drag yourself to work, and don’t look forward to interacting with those you don’t trust. What is worse is when you have a strong trust in your co-workers or boss, only to have that trust violated by their actions.
“Trust takes years to build, yet seconds to shatter.” ~ Anonymous
“I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.” ~ Anonymous
“Trust is the hardest thing to find and the easiest to lose.” ~ Anonymous
“Trust, like fine china, once broken can be repaired, but it is never quite the same.” ~ Anonymous
“You should trust people by their actions, not their words. Because a person might have a heart of gold, but then again so does an egg.” ~ Anonymous
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ~ William Shakespeare
“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” ~ Finley Peter Dunne
“Trust, but verify!” ~ Ronald Reagan
The topic of trust in organizations and in leaders was raised by my friend Bruce Haycock of New Zealand. Bruce has contributed to two of my prior Effective Engineering e-Newsletters [see Who Funds Your Life?, and Connect With Your Customers (Even When You Don’t Know Them)!]. I thank him for yet another great topic idea.
Bruce came to this topic based on another e-Newsletter, You Reap What You Sow!. That e-Newsletter described a call center manager who disrespected his employees, and whose employees, in return, did everything possible to make his life a living hell. Clearly this manager needs help somewhere on the spectrum of personal coaching, counseling, therapy, to getting fired. Needless to say, there is no trust between him and his employees; in fact, there is outright hatred in both directions, resulting in a totally dysfunctional organization (see Dysfunctional Families). Trust, or the lack thereof, can make all the difference between outstanding, functional, and dysfunctional organizations.
Bruce mentioned some talking points from a presentation by Kim Haywood-Matty at a meeting of the Australian Institute of Training and Development in October 2007 titled “From Silos to Networks: Changing Organizations”. She had a useful list of questions to include in improving levels of trust in organizations:
- Do I share personal information about myself, both positive and negative?
- Do I always follow through on what I say I will do? [See Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, and Do What You Say You’ll Do!]
- Am I open and accepting of others without judgments?
- Do I listen to others’ ideas without trying to make them right or wrong?
- Do I keep people informed as soon as I realize I cannot deliver on a commitment?
- Do I encourage others to give me feedback if they perceive that I am not living up to the organization’s values?
- Am I honest with others, able to give constructive feedback to them about negative behavior?
As Bruce stated to me, “when you look at these described characteristics of organizational trust, you can see it drives directly into personal, internal capability, effectively one’s own mental and emotional healthiness to be honest, sincere, and to give and receive the right type of feedback.” This is well said. Trust is something that should be fostered and nurtured within an organization, and is something leaders must demonstrate if they are to earn others’ respect. When people in an organization truly trust each other, respect each other, and work happily with each other, synergy can be developed, and the results such an organization can attain can be nothing short of astounding (see Pigasus - When Pigs Fly!).
“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don't think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” ~ Peter Drucker
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