In Trust We Trust
There is only one thing I am afraid of when talking about ‘trust’: that I am not capable of transmitting how important, how essential, trust actually is.
Trust in a relationship is everything. Partners that don’t trust each other will end up not being partners anymore. Trust is important in every single aspect of our life, including the professional dimension.
In an office where there is no trust people will have hidden agendas and a considerable amount of time and effort will be spent checking on each other ultimately at the expenses of a common goal.
Mistrust costs time, energy and money and accomplishes very little. People working in an environment where there is no trust will be more concerned about keeping their job than trying to fulfill their potential. Disengagement is a natural consequence of a lack of trust. Employees will be in the office just because they have to but wished they were anywhere else but in the office. These employees will eventually leave and so will all other employees that experience a lack of trust.
If an employee is not performing well but you trust that the performance can be raised to a successful level then you can focus on getting things back on track. Coaching can occur, maybe even tough conversations but trusting that things will be fine will ensure that things will be fine.
If on the other hand you have already lost all trust then there is no point in even trying.
When there is no trust structures to control are built, barriers are erected and in an office immense overheads like coercion, inspection and supervision that are not part of the original work are created. The lower the level of trust, the lower the speed at which things happen and the higher the costs.
So, how do you build trust?
In the words of Ernest Hemingway “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
The best way for you to be trusted is to build credibility. Credibility is built when you are open about your intent, your aim, and when you are actions are in line with it. You therefore act with integrity. This is part of your character.
At the same time though it is also important that you have what it takes, that you have the right capabilities and your personal track record shows that you deliver results. These factors show your competence.
Intent, Integrity, Capability and Results represent the 4 cores of credibility and credibility is essential in order to be trusted.
Saying what you set out to do and taking action is great but you must possess the right skills and you must be able to show a proven track record in order to be trusted.
Let me illustrate this with a story you might be familiar with. The fresco you see here below is called ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) and was painted circa 1930 by the Spanish painter Elías García Martínez in the Sanctuary of Mercy church in Borja, Spain.
Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez
Because of the humidity in the church, over the years the fresco seriously deteriorated and in 2012 an elderly parishioner in her 80s, Cecilia Giménez, decided to restore it. Unfortunately, Cecilia did not have any special education or relevant background, so despite her best effort this is the actual result of her failed restoration attempt:
Ecce Monkey by Cecilia Giménez
When the news of the disfigured painting spread around the globe, Cecilia declared: “The priest knew it. I was painting in broad daylight. I’ve never tried to do anything hidden.”
According to Cecilia she was trusted by the priest to restore the fresco. She also certainly declared her intent and acted with integrity, however she did not quite have the capability to take on the task and the result … well, the result is what people now call ‘Ecce Monkey’.
Eventually, the interest from tourists was high. The church began charging to see the fresco and €50,000 for a local charity were raised. Did Cecilia build credibility as a reliable art restorer tough? Will she be trusted to do the job next time?
I have my thoughts. What are yours?
Suggested reading on the importance of trust: