How to Build Better Relationships by Demonstrating Trust
Using the Trust Model in the Workplace
Trust is a fundamental part of both our personal and professional lives.
But what does trust actually mean? Why does it matter in the workplace? And how can you build trust?
What Does Trust Really Mean?
Whilst there is no singular definition of trust and it can mean different things to different people, in his book ‘The Speed of Trust’, Stephen Covey explains that:
- “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust - distrust - is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them - in their integrity and their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them - of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It's that simple”
Why Does Trust Matter in the Workplace?
Trust is vital in the workplace - a team can’t perform to its full potential without trust, both between team members and between leaders and their employees.
In a trusting team, change is much easier to implement as it’s likely to be met with much less resistance. When employees trust their leaders, they have faith that they are making the right decisions, rather than questioning and second-guessing the proposed change. If employees don’t trust each other or don’t trust their leaders, they are more likely to go ‘against the grain’, challenge what they are being told, and veer off in a different direction than the rest of their team.
Being part of a trusting team can be extremely motivational for staff. It gives them confidence that the whole team is working towards a common goal, and are therefore more likely to achieve it and make that goal a reality. Trust is also key to staff retention and satisfaction. We typically like to spend time with like-minded people that are on the same wavelength as these are the people that we feel like we can trust. If employees feel like they can’t trust their colleagues, they may feel isolated and leave the company sooner than they would if they felt part of a strong, trusting team.
Having strong working relationships that are built on trust also helps drive efficiency and productivity. Not only does this help break down silos (people working solitarily and not relaying important messages), it also means that teams are able to communicate more succinctly and therefore plans can be turned into action much quicker as they aren’t being questioned and challenged.
Using the Trust Equation
The Trust Equation, founded by Charles Green, is one of many trust models that can be used to better understand and build trust in the workplace.
The Trust Equation, as shown above, highlights 4 components that affect an individual’s trustworthiness:
An individual’s credibility is the extent to which others believe in them and in what they say. Our credibility is based on our depth of knowledge, experience, and the confidence we have within ourselves. It can also be demonstrated through an individual’s ability to confidently answer questions around the subject matter correctly and in detail. To increase credibility, we must be open to new ideas, experiences, and be willing to constantly learn and improve.
Example: A manager is leading a project to implement a new data management system. A member of their team asks why they need a new system. The manager demonstrates their credibility by explaining the cons of their current way of working and how this new system would improve each of those points. They also draw on their previous experience and how they have seen this system benefit other companies in the past.
Reliability is all about whether an individual can be depended on to do what they say they are going to do, and to a high quality. To improve reliability, we need to be able to say ‘no’ to requests when we are either already busy, or if we know that we won’t be able to do that task/project to a high standard.
Example: During this new data management system project, the manager is asked to begin another project that is heavily time consuming and not within their area of expertise. Instead of just saying ‘yes’, the manager says ‘no’ so that they can focus solely on the project they have already started and ensure it is done well and on time.
In terms of the Trust Equation, having intimacy with an individual means feeling confident in sharing personal information with them. This could be discussing personal issues, or expressing concerns about work. We all have a work persona, and then a more personal vulnerable persona - intimacy is being able to open up and show some of that more vulnerable side. When people are vulnerable with us, we feel that they trust us and therefore that we can trust them too. This mutual trust helps build better relationships, as well as a deeper understanding of each other as actual people, rather than just colleagues.
Example: To help everyone get to know each other better so they can better collaborate on this project, the manager organises a team-bonding lunch to help staff build better relationships beyond work. This makes the team feel much closer, and thus, they can trust each other more.
Self-orientation, the factor that lowers trust, is a person’s selfishness. Self-orientated people only have their own best interest at heart, making them less trustworthy. To improve this, we need to actually become less self-orientated, rather than just trying to appear less self-orientated - faking it may work once but in the long run, it’s a recipe for disaster. Typically, self-orientation comes from a lack of confidence and security so the best way to decrease it is to focus on personal development and growth.
Example: If the manager was self-orientated, they may try to off-load all of the work that comes with switching to this new data management system onto their staff so that the manager doesn't have to lift a finger. This breaks down the trust that staff have for the manager and can be extremely frustrating and demotivating.
Looking to Build Trust in Your Team?
As we mentioned earlier on in this article, trust is vital in the workplace - a team can’t perform to its full potential without trust.
If you’re looking to build more trusting relationships in your team, have you considered a team training programme?
You can download our pack of courses that feature trust and relationships by clicking here or following the link below.
Until next time...