Do you know what trust looks like?
We use the word ‘trust’ all the time. If someone says they don’t trust you, it hurts. A lot. But what do we actually mean? And how do we make it better?
I’m a big fan of the Stephen M.R Covey book The Speed of Trust. In it, he discusses how we subconsciously make decisions based on the confidence we have in a person or an organisation.
Confidence is made up of character (a person or organisation’s intent and integrity) and competence (their capability, skills and track record).
Have a go at the following exercise:
Relax and take a moment to think about somebody you don’t trust. Imagine them in front of you (really try to imagine them; their clothes, their posture, their expression).
Why don’t you trust this person?
Let me ask you four questions.
- Is it their intent? Do you believe they’re always out for themselves? Or do they play for the bigger team? What motivates their actions? Is it good?
- Are they always straight with you? Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Do they say one thing to you and another to somebody else? Do they have integrity?
- Do they have the knowledge and expertise required for their job? The technical, leadership and people skills? Can they make the right decisions?
- Do they have relevant experience to bring into their current role? Will they be able to tackle unknown problems? Do they have a track record of success?
So, what did you discover in going through that process? Is it their character or their competence that results in a lack of trust? Is it both?
We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust – the key question is whether you want to rebuild trust with them. Many of us hate giving those who have hurt us a second chance, but sometimes second chances can have magical results.
If you want a more trustworthy organisation with more engaged employees, you have to behave in a more trustworthy way. You have to commit to building trust on an individual level before you can expect it to scale.
Trust is based on our experiences, so common sense tells us that for trust to be changed, behaviours must be changed first. We don’t need to buy sophisticated computer systems. We need to change what we do.
This is both scary and exciting, because it means we’re in control. And the first step in changing behaviour is naming behaviour, which takes a lot of guts.
Stephen M.R Covey talks about the 13 behaviours that build or destroy trust.
Let’s highlight a few:
- Talk straight – demonstrate respect to your employees and customers alike. Many businesses are afraid of transparency, but it can have an amazing effect. Admitting that you’re in the middle of a change programme and you don’t know what the end’s going to be, or that the CEO is on his way out but you’re recruiting carefully actually creates more trust and stability, not less.
- Right wrongs – admit mistakes. Apologise. Demonstrate how you will change. It’s as simple as that. A reclaimed customer is more loyal than one who never had a bad experience in the first place, so it’s not just the right thing to do – it works.
- Get better – when coaching the board of a very successful company, our team was recently told “whatever you do, don’t tell anyone that you’re coaches. Don’t even tell reception.” Why? “Because we can’t let anyone know our exec board are being coached.” Why not? Is getting better wrong? Or is it reassuring and inspiring?
- Confront reality – does your CEO get to hear the bad news? Does they want to? We did a diagnostic on a leadership team and were told to “take out a lot of the bad comments – he won’t be able to take it.” That’s a scary prospect!
- Clarify expectations – spend time letting people know what is really needed from them. All too often, people come unstuck for the lack of a proper briefing.
- Practice accountability – consider The Apprentice, are candidates displaying accountability? Or are they blaming others and throwing each under the bus?!
Put simply, trust is our behaviour and behaviour is under our control.
So now that we know what trust looks like, are you ready to work on it? Drop us a line today.