HR Blog

6 rules of building trust in the workplace

This following article is translated by L & A based on LinkedIn shares by Joe Folkman – co-founder of Zenger Folkman (United States).

Many people have been given the feedback, “Others do not trust you.” Most people, hearing this, are perplexed as to what they might do to change. One leader actually asked Joe Folkman, only half joking, if it would help if he wore a sign on his back that says, “JUST TRUST ME!”

The dictionary description of trust is “the belief that someone is being truthful.” If people have not told any boldfaced lies, they believe they ought to be trusted. Stephen M. R. Covey – an American public speaker and expert in Human Resources, author of the book The Speed of Trust defines trust as “both character (who you are) and competence (your strengths and the results you produce).” Trust in others comes not only from being truthful but also from the extent you reliably you do what you say you will do.

What should you do if you want others to trust you more? To help, Joe Folkman analyzed data from more than 35,000 leaders to determine would help most. These are the six steps that emerged from our evidence-based results that create the highest probability for increasing trust:

1. Build positive relationships

We are far more likely to trust those we like. We trust others that stay in touch with our issues and concerns. Take the chance to initiate conversations and meetings. Seek others’ opinions on important topics. Share accurate and complete information with colleagues. Transparency builds trust.

2. Stop competing

Many people, after going through school, playing sports and going through the process of dating, have the opinion that they are in competition with others, and they bring that perspective to work. They assume they will need to impress the boss by being “better” than their peers. They hoard their good ideas and refuse to help other groups. They play the “one up” games, and if there is ever an opportunity to make a peer look bad they take advantage. Their motto is, “Every person for themselves” and “Take no prisoners’.” What a huge surprise when others don’t trust them. If an individual can change their attitude from competition to cooperation, it will have a profound impact on their success. Often people find that as they cooperate more, their personal performance also improves.

3. Appease someone by bringing some useful things to them

People trust others who help them, and who offer them advice, knowledge and experience. Look for opportunities to provide assistance to other individuals and groups. Look for a chance to provide service to groups who need help. It is easy to see a group that is having problems and simply keep on walking, but you build trust when you jump in and offer assistance.

4. Be balanced

Many leaders are so focused on achieving a goal that they fail to notice when team members have problems. Their “damn the torpedo’s, full speed ahead” attitude is so focused on achieving their goals that personal issues and concerns go unnoticed. This creates a significant loss of trust. Leaders need to be able to balance “getting results” with a genuine and appropriate concern for their team members’ needs.

5. Track your commitments

Carefully track the commitments you make to others. Often, with good intentions, people agree to do something but then forget the commitment. Trust comes from reliability.

6. Accept blame and share credit

Avoid blaming others when things go wrong. Accept personal responsibility if there is a problem that involves your group, even if you were not the person who made the mistake. In the same vein, be sure to share with your team any opportunities for praise and commendation for success.

From this list of six, select even one or two ideas that fit your situation and develop a plan to improve. Your willingness to engage in this effort, in sum, will be the most critical indication of your ability to meet with success. For example, Joe Folkman once coached a leader who had the lowest scores on trust that I had ever seen. I asked him if he was surprised at the data. He said, simply, “No. I don’t want people to trust me. I may have to fire any one of them tomorrow; so I like to keep them on edge.” His team had low morale; they did not care much for the work that they did; turnover was high, and in the end, the company went bankrupt. Are you surprised? There are far too many business stories like this. As you can see, the ability to build trusting relationships is a key variable for every leader and for every team and business that is poised for success.

According to Joe Folkman


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