Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, depicts team dysfunction as a pyramid with five layers. The bottom layer is the base for all the rest - “absence of trust.” The absence of trust not only causes challenges at work but often erodes our personal relationships as well.
Individual performance improves in high trust environments. People who feel trusted tend to have increased self confidence. They are more willing to try new things, have higher levels of responsibility and tend to hold themselves more accountable for results. When employee trust is high, the workers feel more secure, are more loyal and stay with a company longer.
Managers cannot do the work themselves. Their success depends on the ability to effectively delegate tasks. A supervisor that does not trust the workers will have difficulty delegating. When managers take on too many tasks themselves, or lean toward micromanagement, stress levels increase with resulting decreases in performance. Low trust delegation often overworks the more trusted employees and limits the opportunity of other workers to establish trust.
Team success requires open, honest and direct communication. In trusting environments, team members are more willing to share their weaknesses and mistakes. This allows the team to work together toward improvement. Team members who trust each other are more open to positive confrontation and more willing to engage in healthy conflict. This level of communication promotes greater understanding and better decisions.
Many of us look at trust as something that must be earned. This is a learned behavior. New born babies seem to have an unusually high capacity for trust. It is only after frequent breaches of trust, frequent perceived or real betrayals, that we arrive at the point where trust must be earned. Paradoxically, it takes trust to build or "rebuild" trust.
The trust building process flows in a positive self perpetuating cycle. As we take a risk to trust and others respond favorably, trust grows which then leads to more comfort in trusting. The negative "betrayal" cycle is also self perpetuating. When someone takes the risk to trust us and our actions cause them to feel betrayed they are less trusting and less likely to take the risk to trust us in the future. This gives us little opportunity to demonstrate that we can be trustworthy.
A perfect example can be seen in open, honest, direct communication. When we trust others, we are more comfortable being open in our communication with them. When trust is lacking, we may tend to withhold information or even be deceptive. Our honesty is respected and builds trust. However, If someone perceives that we are dishonest or secretive, they feel betrayed and trust us less.
Here are a few tips that can help you build or "rebuild" trust.
1. Take risks - empower others and share openly with them.
2. Be open, honest and direct in you communication.
3. Accept honesty from others.
4. Respond to others openness with respect and concern.
5. Be accountable - do what you say.
Establishing and sustaining trust requires exploration and a concerted effort over time. The value obtained from improved relationships and resulting levels of achievement are worth the effort. Take the risk.