Trust is a feeling that somebody or something can be relied upon or will turn out to be good. It is the feeling of being sure about something, even if it cannot be proved.
Inspiring trust and trusting others is essential. As a leader, being trustworthy is the cornerstone to motivating and inspiring and building effective and functional teams.
As a team member, when we enter into a relationship with an organisation, i.e., from interviewee to employee, we are ultimately signalling to that company that we trust them:
- We trust what they said during the interview process re: the role / the culture of the organisation / the rewards and recognition.
- We trust them to pay us the agreed wage at the agreed time, to enable us to provide for ourselves and our families.
- We trust them to lead us in line with the culture “advertised”.
- We trust them with our development and progression.
- We trust them to not do anything to damage our wellbeing (physical / emotional or psychological).
- We trust that they will act with integrity.
The trust built between the leader and team member creates loyalty, a safe place to shelter the storms, increased collaborative thinking and innovation and is crucial during any workplace change initiatives.
On a neuroscience level, being in an environment lacking in trust manifests into Amygdala Hijack – you become stressed and your brain signals danger. You put walls up and distance yourself from people, you doubt your intuition and it is draining.
The flip side is that oxytocin is released following interactions with those who appear trustworthy. Being trustworthy makes people feel good and when this happens at work, work itself is more likely to be enjoyable.
A bit of wariness is a good thing – it adds a bit of protection and makes you a bit more cautious. However, if the mistrust goes too far, the ability to step outside of the issue and reflect, reason, and see the bigger picture narrows and it becomes a vicious circle from then on in.
When trusting, I tend to follow my gut; I will almost certainly trust until I am given a reason to not trust. If your spidey senses are tingling, it may be a past experience, a perception or it could be the other person. For the sake of your own health and relationships, please don’t ignore it, try and talk it through with somebody (try a coach / mentor) and see it as an opportunity to grow. Staying in stress mode leads to you feeling on edge and defensive and is generally uncomfortable (for everybody!).
When I hear managers saying, “Trust Me” it makes me want to scream. Trust is not about words. Trust is about actions. Trust is a way of being, not a way of doing.
“Stop asking me to trust you when I’m still coughing up water from the last time you let me drown”.
Key behaviours to help build trust:
- Be Honest – Some things are difficult to hear but it’s best to hear them (constructively / sensitively) than find them out later and know you’ve been lied to.
- Be a Role Model – Don’t do the opposite of what you say you want.
- Keep Your Word – Do what you say and say what you do. If you can’t keep your word, revert to ‘Be Honest’. Be consistent with your performance but also your mood.
- Be Vulnerable – If you don’t know something, admit you don’t know it. There’s not much worse than a boss who’s a blagger.
- Be Collaborative – Share information which allows your team to do their job.
- Listen – Give your team a voice. Listen more than you speak.
- Body Language – If you avoid eye contact, you’ll look dodgy and dishonest. If you have your arms folded, you’ll look defensive. If you look too relaxed, you’ll look disinterested.
- Involve – Do things with your people, not to your people.
- Be Human – Take interest in their personal lives / hobbies / family and share yours.
- Get your hands dirty – Don’t sit back and point your finger, now and again, get stuck in. Show your team you believe in the purpose.
I am very lucky to have a team who I trust – even when they drag me up 25m high trees, clip me in and kick me off the edge. When my arms and legs went wobbly, I did not hesitate in asking them to help me…. that’s trust.
What does trust mean to you?
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