I worked for a woman for 7 years, and when I think about why so long, it was because she knew what to expect from me, she knew when to let me lead, knew when I needed help and when I needed cover. She had my back. That’s trust in the workplace. Trust is foundational. Trusting people to be transparent, own their mistakes, to fully communicate, to do their job and to meet expectations. When we judge others, we place a ‘trust tax’ on that relationship as shared in the book, The Speed of Trust. Gossip is another trust extinguisher. When you say something about someone that you wouldn’t say directly to them, your relationship is taxed with a lack of trust. You know that meeting that you had after the meeting? That’s a trust tax. It may seem little, but when we chip away at trust a little at a time the trust tax grows and results diminish. In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and people will still misinterpret you. Have you ever walked away from a conversation saying, they didn’t even listen to what I had to say? That’s a trust tax on communication. It effects not just that one interaction but the relationship itself. You’ve probably been the one taxing some of those interactions yourself and discounting what you’re hearing from others because you don’t fully trust them. You think you know better or that you're right and they're wrong. Without trust, you will not create the results you want. Just as the tax created by low trust is real so is the compounding effect of high trust. When trust is high, it produces a performance multiplier, a ripple effect across the organization. When trust is strong and deep, we know what we say will be taken at face value. With trust we can be problem solvers – permission not required. We don’t worry about being judged or the repercussions of taking a risk. With trust, we get into the flow where high performance is achieved. Looking at and talking about trust at work is as important as any other priority for the organization. Getting underneath trust as it relates to communication, transparency, mistakes and other key areas in the organization is where the opportunities lie to locate and solve for the trust fissures. Complete trust is rare today. Think about that. Disappointing for sure, but once the trust gaps are under covered, steps can be taken to accelerate performance. Even on the tightest of teams, there are fissures in trust. I recently facilitated workshops where trust was analyzed across key organizational concepts. These visuals show a Kick Start Your Edge Trust Continuum exercise -- a trust diagnostic uncovering the gaps in trust. Knowing the gaps, we can begin building the bridge.
Now the fun begins as we work to build trust where it’s needed most.
I remember a time just a year into my first sales job. I was so excited to make a sale that I didn’t see that a change to the buy required a reprice. The deal sold before I realized my $125,725 mistake. With my head hanging low, my stomach in my mouth and hands shaking, I sheepishly shared my mistake with my boss. Back then, $125,725 was LOT OF MONEY. It still is today. She quickly responded saying ‘Thank you.’ She said that she cared more about my acknowledging the mistake, being straight and honest. She also told me to never to it Fu--ing do it again!
That's when the compounding effect to trust in our relationship took off. I would literally go to the end of the world for that boss. I became one of her highest performers, and she built a team that was admired and envied by competitors.
Where are the gaps in trust in your organization? Begin this year, buy getting underneath the trust in your organization, and it will be your best year yet.