We recently had to let someone go for untrustworthy behavior. What’s the best way to make sure the trust we have in one another remains strong?
I’m sorry your team experienced this disappointment. You’ll be better off going forward, and you’re smart to place value on relationship health.
There’s no one best way to build trust. Genuine communication is essential for trust to flourish with colleagues. In a recent study of assessments from 87,000 leaders (Zenger & Folkman, 2019), three elements stood out related to earning trust. Positive relationships (giving real feedback in a helpful way, resolving conflict, generating cooperation), good judgment (using subject-matter expertise), and consistency (do what you say you will do and do more than what’s expected).
A few more tips to earn a stellar reputation:
- Practice skillful self-disclosure. Revealing your intentions, vulnerabilities, emotions, values and goals at the right time and to an appropriate extent alleviates others’ suspicion or feelings of distance from you.
- Limit your use of “I” communication. Think and speak “we”. Honor your team.
- Manage your brand. Document what you’re known for (the good and bad) and what you want to be known for in the future. Address one area needing attention today.
- Be truthful and open. What you can’t share, acknowledge as confidential. This helps others trust that you’ll keep their confidential information to yourself.
- Increase the amount of face time in your relationships. Email is a time-saver for sure but it falls short when tone and facial expressions matter most.
- List three adjectives that you’d be proud to hear others use to describe you. Strive to live up to them so people know they can expect reliable positive treatment from you.
- Manage low points and dark moods with self-care.
- Be patient. These strategies work best over time, and not as well with all people.
Those who were lucky to be raised in a safe, caring environment reciprocate trust more easily. Early life experiences of isolation and uncertainty interfere with the development of a trusting personality as those individuals may have lower levels of the neurotransmitter oxytocin to help them feel safe in relationships.
To get a feel for whether trust is abundant in your organization, take this 3-item quiz:
- Is it common practice for your team to believe in and be proud to work for your leader(s)?
- Does your team collaborate? The whole is greater than the sum of its parts when output obtains the special quality that comes from combining talents.
- Are people accountable from the top to the bottom of your organizational chart?
Practice, as with anything else in life you want to get good at, is necessary to build trust. I’ve heard it said that you can’t think your way into trust. You have to behave your way there. Be a woman (or man) of your word, because words have power. Enjoy the credibility that can continue to grow with every decision you make.