How to Step Toward Trust in Cultures of Distrust

10 ways to have a voice for trust

Posted Feb 26, 2016

You don't need to convince your boss that operating with trust makes good business sense. Show him. You don't need to argue with your boss about the business merits of engagement, innovation, and greater accountability. Show her. The reality is, your boss may not care about trust. But he does care if you hit your targets, exceed your objectives, and create business solutions. She does care if your results make her look good.

One common way organizational culture changes is from grassroots success. When you get great results, others notice, want to discover how you're doing it, and opt to model your approach. First, decide to create your own trust-pocket of exceptional performance where great work can thrive.

Second, if you want more trust at work, you need to speak for trust not against distrust. We're used to people talking about the things that are wrong, aren't working, or need changing. Just listen to the current campaign rancor. But as a leader wanting to build your own trust-pocket in a culture with distrust, talk about what you want, not what you don't want.  

It's easy to be against something, but successful leaders lend their voices toward what they want to bring about or make happen. Leaders who operate with trust at work demonstrate a commitment toward trust.

Bing Image - free to use and share
Source: Bing Image - free to use and share

Here are 10 ways to step toward trust and lend their voice for trust:

  1. Manage to the trustworthy vast majority of people who do a great job
  2. Promote the ideas, talents, and contributions of those you work with and around
  3. Paint word pictures so others can see what trust in action “looks like”; then model those behaviors yourself
  4. Look for and provide opportunities for others to excel whether they're on your team or not
  5. Provide accurate, credible, information so people can make informed decisions, with personal integrity, especially on difficult issues
  6. Focus on what people can do; help others succeed
  7. Invest in people by helping them transition from change and increase their skills
  8. Facilitate understanding, inclusion, and well-being that's not simply another program
  9. Engage others in thoughtful dialogue and encourage healthy conflict
  10. Create a local trust culture where people can share their ideas, offer their discretionary efforts, and passionately contribute

No matter the level of dysfunction and distrust in a larger organizational culture, you can work to bring about what's possible in your own work group. You can create a trust-pocket that shows others what can be; what the business dividends of trust are.

In this era of distrust, no one who leads can afford to allow what you can't change to affect what you can. Stop waiting for top-down organizational initiatives. Step toward trust from where you are.

More trust building tips:

Need help building your own trust culture? You'll find of tips and real-world information in Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation