Following on the last post I wanted to explore the issue of trust in the workplace and how this can be easily built across all levels of an organisation. Too often trust is assumed. Little more than lip service is paid to the importance of trust in the workplace. This is the result of people not feeling safe or comfortable enough to be themselves at work. They wear a mask or front appearing to be what they believe others expect of them or simply to hide a self-perceived weakness or insecurity (this is portrayed brilliantly by Ricky Gervais as the office manager in the sitcom The Office). Their lack of trust in themselves creates a barrier between them and their team. While this is obvious stuff, it is far more prevalent than many care to admit. Much of it is very subtle and goes unnoticed by management. The consequences of this include low grade tension, minor conflicts, cliques, territorial thinking, poor or limited collaboration, gossip and politicking, right up to bullying, emotional and physical abuse, underperformance, excessive absenteeism, stress and related legal consequences.
The above is a small sample of the price an organisation can pay for poor management and leadership. The amazing thing is that such incidents can be minimised, if not eradicated, by taking a few simple steps across the organisation. As usual real change rests with people at the top, if they do not model the change they wish to see in their people throughout the organisation then no lasting positive change will happen. Trust is such a fundamental element in the smooth and effective performance of any organisation that without it no entity can survive long-term. This is true for a marriage as it is for a multinational.
So what are the simple steps any good manager or leader will take to encourage a trusting environment:
First, know thyself. The first rule of leadership and good management is know your primary resource inside out i.e. You. You will only be able to manage and lead others to the extent that you are doing this for yourself. Raise and passionately work on your self awareness. You only ever have control over what you are aware of, so to expand your area of influence and depth of impact, enhance your awareness.
Second, talk less, do more. Talk is cheap and easy. You need to not only say the right thing but also do it, and be seen to do it. Your actions must be aligned to your message. If you have to preach, then make sure you practice it every day.
Third, never react. As a manager or leader you need to demonstrate real presence and poise. This requires self-awareness and emotional maturity or as coined by Harvard Psychologist Daniel Goleman ‘emotional intelligence’. Without this you are basically still the spotty insecure, hypersensitive 16 year old in an expensive suit trying to fake it in the adult realm.
Fourth, demonstrate trust through your words and actions. This can only be done effectively if you are practicing the first three steps and is dealt with comprehensively in the previous post (No one to Trust). This final step states that you have to embody trust; be open with people, be genuine in your interactions, express yourself honestly and respectfully, listen to others, seek feedback, make it your intention to build others irrespective of their position, in other words what people see and how they experience you is really who you are. People feel you are being genuine whenever you interact with them.
These steps require you as a manager or leader to have confidence in yourself to be able to process whatever others present to you without taking it personally. Of course you are still required to make tough decisions, challenge others when needed and keep others accountable, including yourself. But such actions become easier and more accepted by the team when they are part of the overall approach outlined above.
As a leader or manager in a family or in company, you owe it to yourself and those around you to employ these steps with heart and make them your raison detre.
For more on this topic check out http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trust-the-new-workplace-currency/201110/5-things-your-staff-wants-you-know