TrustBUSTER™ #3 – Slow to extend trust to others (and Why onboarding matters)

by Nov 19, 2010Career Transitions, Insights, Leadership, Leadership Transitions, Performance Management, Self awareness

TrustBUSTER™ #3 – Slow to extend trust to others

I was facilitating a team building conversation with a group of twelve people.  Half of them knew each other well and the other half were new team members who were working in regional offices.  For the trust part of the session I asked each person to answer three questions and we went around the room to share answers.  The three questions were:

  1. Trust – do you give it automatically or do people have to earn it?
  2. If you give it – how do they lose it?  OR  If people have to earn it – how do they earn it?
  3. Bonus question:  What are “forgiveness factors for you” – ie.  If these factors are in place you will forgive trustBUSTING behavior.

There were two A-HA moments.  The first was when someone shared her surprise that everyone did not share her answer to the first question.  She thought everyone required people to earn trust.  The second moment was from my perspective at the front of the room.  I saw many of the new people taking note of what their new peers said about trust.  For them, the information being shared was helping them understand how to establish solid relationships in a new organization. 

So what is the impact of being slow to trust others?  I like to focus on transitions(leadership and job) because this behavior will be most evident in the building of a new relationships. 

For a new leader, people will sense your lack of trust because of the questions you ask and actions like taking work away from them or micromanaging.  If they do not know why you are staying so close their likely response will be to lower their trust in you.  This begins the slippery slope of eroding morale and engagement.  It can be fixed, but it will take lots of effort on your part. 

A good move for a leader is just to be open about it.  It could be as simple and direct as saying “I need to see the work your capable of so that I understand what skills you have and what you need from me in terms of support and development.”  By putting it on the table your motives become known and might even provide a way for your new people to manage you by keeping you in the loop on things.  Remember, your people will judge you based on your actions NOT your intentions.

For a new employee, your peers need to get to know you and being slow to extend trust will slow the building of new relationships.  You will need to trust somebody.  When I hired people with low trust (we assessed this as part of the interviewing process) I made specific moves during the selection and onboarding process to earn their trust.  Things like never missing a committed deadline, over communicating, and being transparent about what was happening.  If there is not a onboarding process in place to support your need to build trust quickly, find a way to fulfill your own needs to build those relationships.

For anyone, transparency is the best policy to counteract this behavior.  If you are open it can be handled.  A good onboarding program greatly lessens the effect of this because trust is being built from the beginning and this should cease to be an issue.

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