Have you ever tried to pour into a broken glass?

In the first part of this trust series, we talked about what trust had to do with it. And hopefully you discovered what we have learned in working with teams for years: it has EVERYTHING to do with it. If you missed the email, catch up here.

A client once told us, “There’s a communication issue, so people are holding back ideas in meetings. Everyone understands the goal, but we can’t get there. I wouldn’t call it a trust issue – we all like each other and get along.” Well, most roads lead back to trust, and it may be worth revisiting the definition we’re talking about, which has likely been heavily diluted along the way:

Trust = unguarded interaction with another.

So, broken trust = guarded interaction. Research shows that a whopping 58% of employees trust a stranger more than their leader. The majority of people showing up in the workforce today are guarded, yet trying to work together and achieve big goals? No way that’s working well.

Let’s see how this translates into the culture you are (actively) creating and the longevity of your workforce. According to Gallup, here’s how trust plays out on both sides:

  • High trust: Employees who trust their leadership are twice as likely to say they will be with their company one year from now. High-trust organizations also have an enormous advantage in the speed with which any new initiative will take hold.
  • Low trust: When people don’t trust leadership, they’re spending working hours talking about the mistrust, and silently planning their exit. This translates into little interest in making a new strategy work or creating new customer initiatives.

Which culture are you creating? If the data is right, over half of your team could be ready to go given the right opportunity.

In our experience of working with leaders and teams, here are some of the obvious (and not-so-obvious) ways that trust gets weakened or broken in the workplace:

  1. 0%-99% Truth: Lies by omission or commission will break trust quickly, and these are the hardest to recover from. We’ve seen how this behavior can derail otherwise successful careers and reputations. You are only trustworthy when telling 100% truth.
  2. Unwillingness to Extend Trust: When leaders don’t trust their team, members will dish it right back. If you question their work, their time, their intention, it sets a tone in the organization. Instead of working on results, teams will be focused on a lot of CYA.
  3. Failure to Walk the Talk: This plays out many different ways; having expectations of some people but not all, not following processes, etc. The most detrimental version, however, is when a leader asks for honest feedback, receives it, then retaliates. Who wants to follow someone who can’t handle the thing they say they want?
  4. Unpredictability: Making quick or random changes without thought or notice. Even if a change is positive or necessary, when made in reaction mode without weigh-in or communication, it can be disastrous. Being unpredictable creates insecurity.
  5. Lack of Vulnerability: When you fail to model vulnerability, you send the message that it’s more important to cover yourself from looking bad, than to create a safe space for your team to thrive in. Not to mention that lack of vulnerability kills creativity and innovation. You probably didn’t want to innovate, anyway. 🙂

Where might you be showing up above? Be honest. Without trust, every effort we make is undermined, not to mention that no one will want to follow us. Don’t let that be. Make this matter more! As the tolerance for mistrust in the workforce continues to wane, you’ll be glad you did.

Stay tuned as we discuss next week how to build or repair broken trust. Until then, here’s a challenge: pick one thing above that resonated most with you. Write down 3-5 places this is showing up for you. Next week we’ll discuss what to do about it.

Connect With Us:

Keep giving us feedback! Email leslie@capacity7.com or andy@capacity7.com, or check us out at www.capacity7.com or www.leadershipbd.com.


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