Trust or Distrust

What’s it like in your organization?

There are many times in my coaching practice that I have to help my clients clean up a situation because they trusted the wrong people at work. The really sad thing is that not everyone that acts like they are your friend or ally at work is really your friend or ally.

One of the most important things you can achieve with your coworkers is trust and rapport. If your coworkers know that you care about them, they’ll work harder and better for you and with you. If they don’t trust you, then they simply will not deliver for you.

How do you know who you should trust? A person’s role or status doesn’t determine their trustworthiness. Trust is about individuals. But, how can you quickly determine which individuals to trust?

First you have to trust yourself. We all have instincts about certain things and some of us even have the instinctual ability to know right away who to trust and who not to trust. There are some simple ways to be on the look out for who to trust and who not to trust.

Look out for people who talk about things that are not theirs to talk about. We all know that person that will tell something about you or something that you said, when you never meant for it to be shared. There are a couple of things you can do about this.  One, make sure you always preface what you say to that person with, “This is confidential, and it cannot be shared.” If they share it anyway, then do the second thing; NEVER tell them anything else that you do not want others to know.

I had a client once who could not figure out why she was not getting promoted and why people did not trust her. The primary reason was that she would leave a meeting where matters had been discussed but may not have been decided and would promptly speak to others about it. This behavior caused people to not trust her to be in meetings when sensitive topics would be discussed. It had a stalling effect on her career and kept her “stuck” at the director level when her peers were becoming Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents.

If, on the other hand, you have a coworker that you have confided in and they have kept your confidence then you can likely trust them in the future. Look for people that do not really participate in “office gossip” because they are the ones you want to build a trusting relationship with!

We all know people who say one thing and do another. This is an automatic red flag and it speaks directly to the person’s integrity, or lack thereof. It means that we probably cannot trust them to meet deadlines because we cannot trust that they will be honest about any delays that may arise.

This behavior can be particularly impactful if you have real milestone deadlines for projects or objectives. In this case, either remove yourself from the project, have this person removed, or have a back up so that you will receive realistic updates.

And of course, you know the folks that complain about EVERYTHING but never really stand for anything! Most of the time, the productivity of people like this is lower than others because they spend a lot of time complaining rather than working. They become a drain to the productivity of the entire team they work with and the coworkers they interact with. It is best to address their behavior directly and quickly to minimize the impact to others. If the behavior continues, then you should remove them from the team to restore productivity.

One of the most common behaviors to impact trust are people who over-promise and under-deliver. It can be extremely frustrating to work with these people because you believe that they will deliver on what they have promised and the first time that you know there is a problem is when you have missed that deadline! You can easily remedy this from happening by confirming the promise. Double check that there is actually enough time to do everything that has been committed, are there enough resources to do what is expected by the deadline, etc. Trust but verify.

Then there is the lone wolf that operates as a team of one. There are many problems that this behavior creates. It destroys a team environment and has a negative impact on achieving your goals and objectives. None of us can do it all by ourselves and yet this type of behavior says to the rest of the team that you are not needed or cannot be trusted to do what needs to be done. It also sends the message that “I am the only one that can do this.” Regardless of the behavior or the attitude, when someone is operating as a team of one, nobody wins!

The reality is that authentic trust, the kind you need to create strong and mutually beneficial working relationships, has always been direct and questioning. To trust or not to trust requires that you trust yourself and that you remember that there are times when it is best to not trust. It is also important that you are trustworthy. So here are a few quick things you can do to maintain your trustworthiness.

Give credit when credit is due. This may seem like such an easy thing to do but so many people do not consistently tell others when they have done a good job! Make sure you are the one that exhibits this behavior but make sure it is genuine.

Avoid office gossip! There are few things that will destroy trust more than being the office gossip. Just avoid it unless you have the facts! Most of the time, the speculation and rumors that get passed around are not even close to the truth and you lose credibility by passing it on.

Participate and contribute. Be a good team member and always participate in doing the work, in brain storming, planning, etc. This makes you a valuable contributor that others really want to work with.

Be consistent. Leaders want people who routinely exceed their expectations—meaning you must produce excellent work day in and day out. No one on your team should have to wonder whether you’re going to deliver. Not only does your performance need to be consistent, but so should your mood.

Trust seems to be a dying art in every aspect of our lives. More and more we hear about all of the distrust in society today. One way to stand out is to learn to trust and be trusted. This will put you head and shoulders above others!

About Connie Cwik

Connie Cwik has a career signature of being asked by senior corporate leaders such as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Rick Wagoner to assume advisor-consultant roles with clients and executive teams. She was  recruited by The Walt Disney Company to coach executives and worked jointly with their leadership to create career development plans for Disney’s Enterprise IT group (50 people). A recognized leader and mentor, Connie holds more than 20 years experience building relationships, developing teams, and coaching associates to success. Contact her at via email at ccwik@cwikbusinessconnections.com to find out how Connie can coach your team to success!