Trust – Take the Time to Build and Maintain It

By James Burroughes

Apr 24

The concept of trust might feel like a funny thing to be talking about at this time. However, as the last few weeks have shown, it’s one of the key issues affecting business performance according to research by both Gartner and Gallup.

The dictionary defines trust as, ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. To me, the key part of this are the words FIRM BELIEF.

As a child, we mostly all hold a firm belief that our parents have our back. They will protect, provide and help us whenever and wherever possible. And yes there are exceptions to this rule, however, I’m working on the basis of good parenting. It’s interesting to me that most leaders never liken their role as a leader as having many similarities to parenting. And the situation now is something like when your kids are under immense exam pressure — x1000.

Trust In the Workplace

In business, your employees want to firmly believe that you aren’t virtually peering over their shoulder (micromanaging them); or that you are so “hands-off”, you have no idea what they are up to.

Employees want support. They want encouragement to be allowed to try things and know that you will be there to catch them when they fall. Or at least pick them up and dust them off if they do! Remember they are currently having to try a LOT of new things! They also want you to care about them, ask how they are and show your compassionate side.

This cultivation of trust is key to employees delivering at their best. David DeSteno, professor of psychology at Northeastern University and the author of The Truth About Trust states that trust is “essential to boosting employee engagement, motivation, and candor.”

This begs the question, how does one build trust?

  1. There needs to be a simple alignment of expectations and obligations between managers and employees. A virtual one to one can create enormous alignment, and therefore build trust using the four simple questions above. Employees are more likely to follow through on goals set by a manager they trust. Likely to be more forthcoming about the challenges they see on their level.
  2. Formally known as incidental socialisation, these are the water cooler conversations. The just passing by your desk questions, the lunchroom chats. Meetings tend to start and end with business and not trust-building small talk. We are relational animals and therefore need this interaction to feel a connection and trust.
  3. Try moving to a 45-minute meeting format which starts with small talk. It’s never been more important to maintain social connection with your team. Scheduling a shorter meeting time will also force those in the call to get down to business and clear up actions quickly.

The intent for this is to remind you to take the time to build and maintain trust with your teams. They really need it right now.


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