During a meeting with a client who was trying to work through a culture change, the question was raised about how they could change a culture of broken trust.
WOW! That’s a very direct and not quickly answered question. Many of the answers fall at the feet of organizational leaders – they’re the ones most responsible for creating an environment of trust. But let’s look at the question from a different perspective – the perspective of an individual team.
Many people believe that – to build trust – you must do what you say you’ll do. That way, the client, the co-worker, the peer – they all believe in your actions and begin to trust you.
But there’s a different type of trust, one that’s about more than the task. It’s your being able to trust others enough to open up to them, to share your thoughts, your concerns, your ideas, your critiques, and your feelings. This kind of trust requires you to be willing to communicate what you’re thinking and feeling.
This trust is not as easy as “doing what you’ll say you’ll do.” This is about your being trusting enough in how others will respond, how they’ll respect you and what you share. This is about your willingness to open yourself up for the good of the team.
When trust on a team is lost, yes, team members need to rebuild it by saying they’ll do something, and then doing it. But if your team has deep trust issues due to new members, past conflicts, or some other reason – there need to be intentional efforts on the part of the individuals to share what they think and feel, to start the process of being open and trusting others. Being willing to open up is the first step in engendering trust from others.
Can you take the first step on your team? Tell them “I’m going to share something that I’m uncomfortable sharing, and I’m trusting you will listen and be respectful of me in the process.” Then offer your idea, your concern, your critique, your feeling, or your thought.
Start the process of building back team trust.