This is where it begins to get interesting. During the offsite meeting, I asked a straight question to the group, “How do you know that trust is present in the team?” Everyone stared at me blankly, except for the team leader who quickly raised his hand and replied, “ we know we have trust in the team because we have all the processes in place to ensure that we trust each other”, indeed, trust meant having the right process in place so that if they did not have trust, they could easily blame the process itself, and not the individuals.
So, why is trust important in teams and organizations, and how to build it using some simple effective skills? Stephen Covey, author of the “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”, called trust the “8th Habit”. When trust exists in an organizational setting, individual performance increases and trickles down to the bottom line results. However, gaining and keeping trust is not n easy task, it can take years to build and seconds to destroy. Trust starts with you as an indivdual; you cannot possibly ask to be trusted by others if you do not demonstrate trustworthiness yourself. And evidence suggests that 1 in 2 leaders are not trusted, in a recent Fedex poll, 47% of people say they have little or no trust in the CEOs Fortune 500 companies.
What are the magic ingredients to become trustworthy? One way is to use an equation elaborated by David Maister in his book “The Trusted Advisor.” Trustworthiness equals credibility plus relaibility plus intimacy divided by self-orientation. Credibity is words and the experise we have in a given area. Reliablity is all about the congruence of our actions and keeping promises. Intimacy refers to our emotional make up and empathy towards others. And finally, self-orientation, relates to our deep intentions and our focus (are we doing it for them or us). This is very poweful, and can ellimnate the other efforts if your intentions are not sincere.
As we begin the New Year 2014, think about your own trust equation. To what extent will you able reinforce the trust in your team and in yourself? If all else fails, do what one of my old bosses did – trust but verify.