Trust Issues, they are everywhere! 5 ways to build trust in your workplace today! 

Personally, and professionally, we talk about trust A LOT. We learn at an exceedingly early age, trustworthiness is everything. “Your word is your bond”.  If I were to ask you a time when you were caught in a lie, I bet you can recall it perfectly. What you did, what you said you did, to who and with whom, the whole deal. You likely remember how you felt as well. The shame and remorse possibly the disappointment, in yourself. It is a big deal, a non-negotiable and it is all around us, why do we have such an issue with it?

We have heard the saying “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to rebuild”. I am not sure I agree with this. Trust does not take years to build, we generally trust people and we trust them immediately. If you say you are pilot and can fly this plane, I am going to go with that. We do not ask the Doctor for her resume. We count on servers to clean their hands and not recycle our food. Do you check your receipt every time you buy something?  Nope, for the most part we blindly trust much of the world around us, particularly when it comes to strangers. When we are at work however things can get messy. All of sudden we are nervous that perhaps those we work with don’t have our best interests at heart. Maybe there is side talk and the belief that our trust, though easily passed out to the barista this morning, is much harder to give to the person in HR. 

Why is this? Well, we know the barista does not have a hidden agenda, she is just doing her job and she does not really know us anyway. Those we work with know us, they see our strengths and our weaknesses, they may have an agenda, but most importantly we have an agenda. We are making assumptions and withholding in some cases. We do not want to look incompetent, and we can be quick to judge when others do. We build up walls to protect ourselves for what may be a toxic work environment and we form alliances with only a few of our coworkers. We have doubts about our boss’s competency and we feel threated some how, some way many times a day. Does this sound familiar? Well, if not YIPEE for you, you are in a great headspace and workplace. If it does sound familiar, please read on. 

Five Tips to build trust in your workplace.

  1. Start with you! What is your headspace? The environment may be toxic and that is a lot to deal with. Your mindset and attitude will need to be in tip top form if you are going to tackle this. Be clear with yourself. What can you influence? How can you approach your co-workers and what kind of energy will you bring to the office, virtual or in person? Have you checked in with your own code of ethics? Sometimes we get drawn into the gossip or side talk. Is this the kind of co-worker you want to be? If you want trust in the work workplace, ask yourself first, what do I need to demonstrate to be trustworthy and what specific behaviour should I exhibit. Get crystal clear on this first. Once you feel sure of how you want to show up and what you can realistically influence you can go to step two.
  2. Ensure the team has a common understanding of what trust looks like to THIS team. That may sound obvious, but each team will have different norms of communication and execution. This would be a great team building exercise. Brainstorm with the team a list of “What trust looks like for the team” and brainstorm a list of “What trust does not look like for the team” Then talk about how you will hold each other accountable. This will be the game changer. If you do not hold one another accountable the process is a waist of time. ***This does not have to be spearhead by the head of the department or the manager. This can be suggested and lead by any team member. 
  3. Are you making assumptions? STOP this can be the biggest game changer! Establish a norm on your team whereby if you catch yourself or a teammate making an assumption STOP! Go with the facts and otherwise ask questions and clarify. This can be part of your team norms, set something up with the teams input to support stamping out assumptions. This is made up stuff in our minds that sets us on the wrong path almost every time. 
  4. Create or connect to Vision, Mission, Values. This can be something the team works on together, revisits quarterly and has a common sense of purpose and language. Do not leave these sentiments on paper, ensure they come to life and guide your work. They will provide tools to fall back on when things seem to be going sideways. They will provide you with something to check in about. “Is this allowing us to accomplish our mission? Or Does this align with our team values?” 
  5. In a recent literature review by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) 2019, they found 25% of employees do not feel safe voicing their opinions about work-related issues. This is serious and compounded when people do not feel safe reporting harassment, discrimination, or serious conflict. Organizations will first suffer from loss of productivity due to disgruntled and disrespected employees, and then they will suffer from turnover. Creating an environment of trust that supports and encourages honest conversation is integral to a healthy and progressive workplace and also supports diversity, equity and inclusion. Ensure your organization has mechanisms in place to encourage honest and difficult conversations. Peer conversations with structure and confidentiality can be a first step. Rather than gossip, set up formal chats where coworkers can productively discuss and even document questions, challenges and issues. The intentions are to provide objective support, circle back to the values and move forward with a positive perspective and possible solutions to address the issue. 

“We don’t build trust when we offer help, we build trust when we ask for it.” Simon Senik

We benefit from admitting we don’t’ know it all and we can’t do it all. We need each other to accomplish our work we are not a one-person organization! How would you feel if your co-worker asked you to support her initiative to create an amazing work culture?  We want to share our ideas and we naturally want to hear those of our colleagues. Blindly trusting all those we meet and those we work with may be a bit naïve, but I prefer this to the assumption that everyone is out to get me. I certainly get far more work done and have access to many great ideas, when I trust those around me and make it known, loud and clear, I don’t have all the answers and I need help! 

Trust Issues