The Common Sense Way to Build Trust and Engagement

Start with your own five work-acres

Posted Jun 27, 2014

"Employee Distrust is Pervasive in U.S. Workforce," was the headline from a recently released study by the American Psychological Association, where according to The 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey, "only half of workers believe their employer is open and upfront with them."

With the magnitude of information coming at us 24/7/365, it's easy to miss studies like APA's that continue to punctuate high levels of distrust at work. Or miss the growing trend reported by the General Social Survey that "trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away."

It's also easy to miss that the solution to rebuilding trust is within our grasp. As I discussed in Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation: "If you're someone's immediate boss, no matter your organizational level or business role, you can positively influence trust, commitment, engagement, and innovation. You can create your own Trust, Inc. – a trust-pocket, where people show up and do great work."

People work for people, and trust is a local issue. For the people who work for you, it's your trust that matters most to them. You're the one having everyday impact on their work life. Like the toddler's message in a YouTube video,"Worry about yourself!" – that should be the mantra as it relates to building trust.

Yet, too many of us are fixated on everything that's wrong, instead of working to fix what we can. We're more concerned about the missteps of the person down the hall than what's happening in our team; or outraged by the department head that said one thing and did another, not hearing our own words or noticing our own unaligned actions.

If you want to create workplaces with trust and engagement, shift your viewpoint to what's in front of you. Ask yourself, how much trust is there in my five work-acres?

1. Step up: Winning cultures founded on trust don't start by proclamation; they're created by desire, nurtured by authenticity, and evolved by behavioral integrity.

2. Start with competence – yours! People trust people who consistently delivery. If people don't view you as competent, there's no performance trust. Without performance trust, you're unlikely to engage others, build lasting relationships, or produce sustainable results.

3. Build on what's going right. A common trust-building mistake is spending too much energy to fix what's wrong, or focusing on those who are causing problems. Instead, identify and reinforce what's going right. Put your attention on getting more of the behaviors and actions you desire.

Bottom line: for the people who work for you, trust starts with you. By starting in your five work-acres you create a winning culture that enables engagement, innovation, and contributions for your work-group. You can start the trust process by going first and giving trust, not as an all or nothing light-switch approach, but incrementally over time, fueled by accountability on the other side.

Want to know how to make your five work-acres a trust-pocket? Or create a thriving culture where ideas and engagement flourish? There are dozens of things you can do right now to enable trust and engagement in your work group. Here are a few:

You'll find more trust building approaches in Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation (Career Press, 2014).