The Importance of Trust

Mutual trust and confidence. The very heart of the employment relationship. A duty by which both employee and employer are bound. Implied into every contract of employment, running through it like an invisible thread. A breach of which is so fundamental, that it can bring the entire contract to an untimely, immediate end.

And with good reason.

Because it is not just a legal thing, it is a foundations thing. Trust is everything. It is the platform, the groundwork upon which we build everything else in the workplace.

Trust is a hygiene factor.

When we dismiss an employee because they have stolen from us, we do not dismiss them because of the value of the items that they took, but the fact that trust between us has been irrevocably breached. It is legal recognition that some things are so serious that there is simply no way back.

There are some important things about trust that I believe to be true. Firstly, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. I will give it willingly. But when it is broken, it is broken. There are no shades of trust, no easy way back following a breach. Trust is delicate. Fragile. What takes time to build can be destroyed in a careless moment. And at work, mistrust spreads.

Failure to communicate. Dressing up difficult messages. Not doing what you said you would do. Lies. Rumours. Poorly handled people stuff. Poorly managed change stuff. Weak leadership.

All of these things impact on the levels of trust within an organisation.

Too many rules. Policies prescribing for every potential eventuality. Micro management. Levels and levels of sign off. Blaming. Excessive emailing. Presenteeism.

All send a clear signal about how much you trust the people around you.

CIPD research in 2013 found that 31% of employees did not trust senior management within their own organisations.

How do you know if you have a trust problem, at your place? How do you know if a third of your workers don’t trust?

An out of control rumour mill. High turnover. Low engagement. Blame culture. Decisions only taken at the top. A lack of creativity. Risk aversion. No before yes. Politics. Games. Disempowerment.

All might be signals you have a trust issue. Maybe not a fundamental breach, but a problem all the same.

So my questions are these.

Do you trust? And how do you show it?

8 thoughts on “The Importance of Trust

  1. I am a bit different when it comes to trust. I give trust first. I don’t think trust has to be earned. I know people will disappoint me, as I’m sure I’ll disappoint them. If you have to make people jump through hoops to see if they attain a certain level of being trusted, I don’t think you have the right approach. People want to be connected as they are. Trust them and see where it goes. I can tell you that I have a myriad of fabulous, trusting relationships because I showed trust first !!

    • I’m with Steve on this one, I too choose to trust first. I don’t think I could operate any other way. And yes – trust is the bedrock on which we build anything and everything. Nice post

  2. Agree agree! Trust’s a bedrock and I too give trust first. The thing that interests me is how subtle lack of trust can be and how we can convince ourselves that we work in a trusting team. Heard a ‘great’ story about a team who were working on their values – of which trust was of course one. Oh yes, we trust each other, said the team. But when the facilitator asked them to go round the room (confidentially) scoring each team member out of 10 for how much they really trusted them, it was a powerfully different story.

  3. Nice blog.
    Yes I trust.
    Trust is a choice, and I choose to trust and treat people with positive regard and expectation.
    Show it by being trustwrothy – model.
    Encourage collaborative decision making, support it, step forward, hold my responsibly, be open and transparent, and…
    Continue to trust after mistakes or disappointments.

  4. Pingback: Freedoms or Fetters? – Unlimited Annual Leave | David Jackson HR

  5. Yes, very good. An interesting perspective. I have done some extensive research in this area and have found that trust is foundational to organizational activities such as knowledge sharing, and, equally importantly, that it is relational with risk, identity, authority, reputation and familiarity.

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