Trust: If You Build It, They Will Come…and Stay

Trust. It’s a small word and yet, it holds the key to success in just about every walk of life.   And, it’s one of those things that is often hard earned yet easily destroyed.  That makes it precious.

From a corporate perspective, we all pretty much know that building trust in organizations is key.  But what does it look like when it’s in action?

Well, I think that people who work in places where trust is highly valued, exhibit certain behaviours that are less likely to be found elsewhere.  For instance, looking through the lens of a variety of roles, here are some ideas around what we might see in an organization that has successfully built high levels of trust.

As a Boss, people are open and candid with me.  They trust that I’m not in the business of shooting messengers or punishing anyone for giving me straight and honest information about myself or anything else for that matter.  People working with me, are not afraid to be creative or try new things.  And, when they make mistakes, they own up to them and are willing to share their lessons with others.  As a boss too, I strive for transparency in my dealings with others and that means I talk to them, ask for their opinions and listen to their advice.  I feel well rewarded and highly regarded.

As part of a team, I don’t waste time engaging in gratuitous political maneuverings.  I focus instead on building solid and positive relationships with my colleagues for my benefit, and for the team.  I trust them to do the same.  I make sure I fulfill my responsibilities to the team and the organization and take pride in both what I produce and what the team produces.  My team and I enjoy working together and pitch in to do whatever work needs doing, even if it is technically “not my job”.  I always get the credit I deserve for the contributions I make.  I feel that I belong.

As an individual contributor, I make sure that I understand my role in the organization and if I am unsure, I ask someone who can teach me.  Similarly, if I have knowledge that someone else does not have, but needs, I am not hesitant about sharing what I know.  I trust that sharing will give us all the power we need to do our jobs well and succeed. I feel competent and important.

As a sales person, I believe in my product.  My clients’ needs come before my own.  Many of my clients have been with me for a long time.  I continue to work to earn their ongoing loyalty.    I am not afraid to approach my boss if I think my client has needs that could be met differently.  I offer my ideas freely.  I have earned my clients’ respect.  I do not feel the need to compete with my colleagues except in a way that challenges us all to do better. I feel productive and successful.

As an organization, we continue to experience growth in our business.  Our client base is strong and increasing.   Our employees are actively engaged in building and supporting our business.  We value their contribution and make every effort to acknowledge their accomplishments in a variety of ways that have meaning for them.  We feel confident about the future.

Okay, so some of this might sound a bit utopian.  I mean, what the heck, I used to have a boss that hid around corners at lunch hour trying to catch people taking more than their allotted time for lunch.   While hopefully, bosses who behave like that are going the way of the dinosaur, I suspect a lot of work has yet to be done to build the kind of trust it takes to bring all of the scenarios I describe to life.

Nonetheless it is perhaps something to strive for because the price of under-valuing the work of building trust in organizations is very high indeed.   And if you doubt it, ask Toyota about the impact their latest crisis has had on their market share.

I am reminded, strangely, of a little clip from the movie City Slickers where Jack Palance’s character, Curly, talks about the “one thing” that holds the secret of life. When it comes to the secret of successful organizations, I tend to think that the “one thing” is trust.

What do you think?



Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Leadership Values, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Trust: If You Build It, They Will Come…and Stay

  1. You have beautifully painted the picture of what trust makes possible! And that scene in City Slickers is one of my favorites. I am with you – that “one thing” is trust.

  2. Gwyn Teatro

    Thanks for coming by Susan and for your kind words 🙂

  3. Terrific post. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says that negative actions of the recession (pay cuts, layoffs, slashed budgets and poor communications) “are combining to erode the bonds of trust between some employers and their employees.”

    Why does this loss of trust matter? The same reports conclude that these employees will seek other opportunities as soon as the opportunities arise in the recovery. The first to go will be those you most want to keep – the high performers with the most knowledge and competitive advantage.

    More from BlessingWhite about what to do about this (“inspire them to be part of your future”) and links to the research here:

  4. Gwyn Teatro

    thanks for a comprehensive comment, Derek and for the link to your post on trust and retention.

    I think that most people will put up with pay cuts, layoffs, and slashed budgets IF the necessity for them is communicated in a way that creates understanding.
    Most of us need to know not only what has to be done but also how we can contribute to making a brighter future. So many employers miss that part. And that’s where building and maintaining trust levels becomes so important.

    Thanks so much for coming by!

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