Do you believe your entire team trusts you? How do you know? If you could increase their trust level, would it increase business performance? If you pay attention, you will notice that you expect everyone to trust you all the time while you give only varying degrees of trust to everyone else. Interestingly, your team operates with the same principles. The higher up you are in the organization, the closer people watch your actions, looking for reasons not to trust you. To make matters worse, we all unintentionally do things that cause people to not trust us. Rather than remember all the times you did things to build trust, your team remembers the one time you destroyed it.
Trust is Critical to Performance
The feeling of having or not having trust affects behavior, critical thinking, creativity, speed, likeability, energy, and overall happiness. In other words, the trust levels in your organization may be dramatically affecting your culture or harmony, employee engagement, and employee retention, and if you have problems in those areas then I am certain you cannot be maximizing growth and profits.
Imagine that you are playing basketball. It’s the fourth quarter with 30 seconds left on the clock, and you are down one point. It is critical that you can count on the other members of the team. Envision a team where you can count on every player’s ability to make that final shot versus a team where you do not have confidence in anyone to make the final shot. And if you need to stop the opponent from scoring before you get the chance to take that final shot, you must be able to depend on your team to play tough defense and get the ball back. If trust-building issues are not dealt with, you cannot maximize the performance of your organization.
What Is Trust?
“Trust” starts with the premise that one’s peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be careful around group members. Once trust has been broken, its absence is hard to overcome.
In most teams, too much time and energy – and too many good ideas – are wasted trying to protect one’s reputation by managing behaviors, comments, and interactions because of a lack of trust that was created in previous interactions. People are reluctant to ask for help and to offer assistance to others, causing lower morale and unwanted turnover.
In addition, absence of trust in others causes people to create poor work behaviors. Instead of addressing the trust issue, they choose to do things themselves instead of delegating. Or, when others display a behavior they do not like or seem to not be delivering on promises, they take work away instead of addressing the issue at hand. Worse, they may even set lower goals so that they know they can achieve them without the assistance of others.
5 Questions That Indicate Whether You Have Trust
You obviously cannot assume everyone trusts you equally. A great way to find out is to survey your people. I am a big fan of Pat Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team Survey, which has five questions to evaluate how much team members trust each other. Here is a sample question from that survey to help you determine whether you team members trust you. For each of these statements, how would rate your relationship with an individual team member and their relationship to you (the rating system is (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = usually, 5 = always):
- Team members admit their mistakes.
- Team members acknowledge their weaknesses to one another.
- Team members ask for help without hesitation.
- Team members are unguarded and genuine with one another.
- Team members can comfortably discuss their personal lives with you.