Trust is a critical part of any relationship. Knowing you can rely on a partner or teammate allows you to focus on your strengths and responsibilities without worrying that something important will fall through the cracks. In a workplace setting, that’s especially important. Breaches of trust will break a team faster than anything else. Trust is also key to a healthy relationship with the boss.
How well your manager trusts you will dictate the extent to which you are allow to act freely. I’ve heard it said that trust is like a rope tied to your waist. The more trustworthy you are, the more the person holding the other end of the rope will allow you to roam. As trust diminishes, the more likely they are to reel in the rope, restricting your movements. So trust can be equated to freedom – freedom to act independently.
Building trust, or rebuilding it, takes time. Our evaluation of someone’s trustworthiness is impacted by our past interactions with them. New employees, or those with little experience in a given area, may not feel they receive the amount of trust they are due. If trust has been eroded as a result of poor performance, miscommunication, or other letdowns, it will take a series of positive experiences over time to rebuild your credibility.
Building (or rebuilding) trust isn’t hard to do. Simply focus on those things that lead you to place your trust in others:
Think before you act. Prior to speaking or taking action, take time to think through the ramifications. You don’t have to identify every potential outcome, consider what is the most probable. How will people react? What are the ripple effects you are likely to set in motion? Thinking through the “natural” consequences before acting can help you identify negative blows to your credibility and adjust accordingly.
Be prepared. When you present a problem, provide a solution. When you make a claim, have evidence to support it. Speaking in generalities or “crying wolf” without back-up is a sure way to lose trust. Have answers to the questions you’re most likely to be asked as a result of your actions. This shows you are top of your game and builds trust.
Be on time. Rushing into a meeting late or barely beating the clock erodes trust. It demonstrates an inability to prioritize and a lack of respect for other people’s time. The same holds true for achieving deadlines. Show respect for the boss and the rest of the team by completing your work on time.
Under-promise & over-deliver. Most people have a hard time saying “No.” This leads them to overload their plate with a variety of projects. In an effort to get everything done, they multitask which means nothing gets done well, eroding credibility. Don’t make commitments lightly. Give yourself enough time to perform the job to the best of your ability, even if that means explaining why you can’t take on an additional responsibility. Most of us would do well to focus on fewer projects, while executing to a higher level.[Tweet “Most of us would do well to focus on fewer projects, while executing at a higher level.”]
Follow through. An easy way to build trust is to simply do what you said you would do. Every day, people promise to call and then don’t. They commit to taking specific actions, and forget. Those who actually follow through earn our respect and trust because they do what most people don’t.
Earning trust comes down to taking personal responsibility. It requires a level of accountability that most simply aren’t willing or able to exercise. The list of go-to employees is too short. Is your name on it?
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