Your Managers May Not Be As Trusted As You Think They Are

Suspicious Woman CubicleHow can an organization have a problem with low trust yet none of its leaders consider themselves untrustworthy? Sounds crazy, right?

It must be possible in some sort of cosmic, twilight zone kind of way. Organizations frequently ask us to help them address low trust, yet when we work with the individual managers, none of them consider themselves untrustworthy. Huh?

If managers in low trust organizations don’t think they’re the ones with trust problems, how do you explain that 45% of employees say a lack of trust with their boss is the biggest issue impacting their work performance? Or that 82% of people say they don’t trust their boss to tell the truth? Or that research has shown people are more likely to trust a stranger than their boss?

The fact is, your managers may not be as trusted as you think they are. If you are a manager, you may not be as trustworthy as you think you are.

But, don’t worry, you can learn how to build trust.  Like any leadership skill, the ability to build trust can be learned and developed. It’s arguably the most important skill required for leadership effectiveness and it’s needed in our organizations now more than ever.

A fundamental truth about trust is that it’s based on perceptions. People form perceptions of our trustworthiness based on the behaviors we use, and if you use behaviors that engender trust, then you will be perceived as trustworthy.

That’s why we take a behavioral approach to training the skills of building trust. Our Building Trust training program combines the latest research findings on trust with our 40 years of expertise in leadership development. Leveraging the easy to learn, easy to remember, and easy to implement Elements of Trust model, it teaches participants how to increase their own trustworthiness, rebuild trust that has been damaged, and how to have conversations with others about low-trust situations.

Participants learn to use trust-building behaviors that help them demonstrate greater competence in their roles, act with higher degrees of integrity, build stronger relationships with colleagues, and be more dependable in honoring their commitments. For relationships where trust has been eroded, participants learn and practice the skills and behaviors of delivering effective apologies which leads to the rebuilding of trust.

Most people are afraid to talk about issues of trust in the workplace, and for good reason. Confronting an issue of low trust can be an emotional firestorm that causes fear, anger, and defensiveness. After all, as our experience has shown, most people don’t think of themselves as being untrustworthy. The value of having a common definition of trust, which the Elements of Trust Model provides, is it allows people to have an objective view of what trust is and isn’t and talk about trust in a neutral and non-defensive way.

If you aren’t sure if your organization is experiencing low trust, I encourage you to download our free e-book, 7 Signs Distrust is Harming Your Organization. You may find that your managers may not be as trusted as you think they are.

Randy Conley is the Vice President of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. His LeaderChat posts appear the fourth or last Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.

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