Magazine article HRMagazine

Trust Is an Action Verb

Magazine article HRMagazine

Trust Is an Action Verb

Article excerpt

While you may think you are a trustworthy manager, your actions may communicate otherwise to your employees.

Rarely do employees admit to managers that they don't trust them. Yet lack of trust is a pervasive ailment undermining employee engagement and productivity. Often, corporate leaders don't discover the lack of trust until either a manager or an employee leaves.

The words "I don't trust you" may not be said out loud, but you may be facing a lack of trust if employees are:

* Withholding information and using selective communication.

* Persistently questioning goals, strategies, actions and decisions.

* Protecting their self-interest at the expense of the team or organization.

* Acting inconsistently with the organization's values.

* Exhibiting low or diminishing commitment and engagement.

Managers with good intentions understand that maintaining trust is critical, and they may be trustworthy or believe themselves trustworthy. However, their employees may have a different view, unless managers are outwardly taking the steps necessary to build trust. We evaluate ourselves by our intentions. Others-not knowing those intentions-evaluate us on their perceptions of our behavior and performance.

Building Trust

Trust lies at the heart of every strong relationship. Here are six actions you can take to demonstrate your good intentions:

Follow through. Mistrust arises when managers don't do what they said they would do. Most employees understand that some circumstances prevent you from keeping a commitment. They forgive an occasional lapse. But a habit of not following through tells people that you can't be trusted.

This is an easy concept that requires a great deal of discipliune to execute. If you can't meet a promised deadline, tell employees in advance. If you promise to run interference for your team, make sure your sense of urgency matches theirs and report the results. Calling others out on failed promises helps instill trust. For example, if you tell your team that being at work on time is important, address the chronically late team member.

Communicate. Create opportunities to communicate expectations clearly, and build a shared understanding of priorities. Talk straight, and talk often. Your team knows that there is information you cannot share. They want to know what you can talk about, and they want to conclude that you are telling them the truth rather than spinning the message for your sole benefit or for that of the company. …

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