10 Tips for Building Trust at Work

trustBy Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club

Trust at work is palpable but it’s not something easy to measure, except when something goes wrong and makes levels of trust plummet. In this light, where do you start with building trust? These tips will give you some ideas.

1.    Look beyond the surface

How are you going to know what level of trust there is? A person’s trust in you is a bit like an iceberg; you’ve got a tenth or two of iceberg you see above the water but when you look at the structure of the iceberg below the water it not only goes deep but quite wide.

2.    Listen well

When you’re trying to understand the challenges around trust in the workplace, you’ve got to listen hard to what’s going on around you to understand the nuances around the level of trust that organization needs.

3.    Identify what the trust issues are

Play close attention to what’s happening at your place of work and over time you’ll begin to understand where the holes in that organization’s collective trust are. Think about the difference between a saucepan and a colander. If you put water into a saucepan, you can trust it not to leak out because saucepans don’t come with holes in them. If you put anything into a colander, you believe it’s going to leak through the holes. You don’t trust the colander to hold its contents because of those holes. Understanding where the holes are is to know where the trust issues are going to be.

4.    Envision what trust will look like

Switch your thinking to a future state, to determine what ‘good’ looks like in the context of building trust. If we’re currently working in an untrustworthy environment what’s it going to look like when it is trustworthy?

5.    Set your own standards

Identify the fundamental types of behaviours that are appropriate for you to engage with in this working environment. Look at how certain behaviours are going to work for you. What do you think is acceptable? Think of it as establishing your own code of conduct to complement company rules and guidelines.

6.    Show respect

What chance have we got if the level of respect from one to another is not appropriate? I don’t care if you are the person who has the biggest title, the biggest office, the biggest salary. If you treat people disrespectfully then why do you expect them to trust you?

7.    Set an example

You must do what you say you’re going to do. You must role model the behaviour that you want others to adopt. When people believe that you’re authentic and honest and they see that in everything you do and say, it’s likely to be greeted by everybody around you with the same behaviour.

8.    Earn trust daily

You have to earn your reputation anew every day. It has to be earned newly each day; you can’t live off past glories. You can tell whether you’re getting there by the way people look. If you daily commit to being someone they can trust, you see them becoming more relaxed. You see them smiling more. You see more confidence in them because they know they can put their confidence in you after seeing trustworthy behaviour from you day after day after day.

9.    Never not listen

Always be available to listen to people and always circle back round to a person if you’re unable to stop the first time they ask. If you can’t listen to someone now, come back to them later.

10. Use psychological contracting

Using the coaching tool of contracting is good in the sense of building trust. It allows you to ask the person what it is they need from you. How long do they need with you to discuss the issue at hand? What decision are they after? What would be the best use  their time? Ask what would be a great outcome from this conversation.  Asking these questions of people makes you focus on what it is they want out of the conversation, not on what you just feel like doing.

positionignitionlogoAbout the author:

Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members. Follow Simon North and his team on Twitter @PosIgnition and get more advice from him on their Career Advice Blog.

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