Trust means different things to different people. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Obviously, trust matters in personal relationships, but it’s equally important in working relationships and, when present in the workplace, is highly indicative of a successful company. According to a study in Harvard Business Review, people at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout than people at low-trust companies. Inversely, a lack of trust can make an organization sick and dysfunctional and, some would argue, is the root cause of every organizational problem.
Trust isn’t a one-way street. In fact, a truly healthy organization benefits from three directions of trust: A leader must trust her team, the team must trust its leader, and team members must trust each other. What leads to a trusting relationship in the workplace? As with most drivers of corporate culture, building a work culture of trust starts at the top. Corporate leadership must exhibit the actions and behaviors needed to form trusting relationships. When employees see these behaviors firsthand, most will emulate them. But where should corporate leadership start? What traits should be exemplified in their actions and behaviors? David Horsager, CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute, bestselling author of The Trust Edge, inventor of the Enterprise Trust Index, and director of one of the nation’s foremost trust studies, the Trust Outlook, may have the answer in his 8 Pillars of Trust.
What are the 8 Pillars of Trust?
Here are Horsager’s 8 Pillars of Trust and ways in which managers can model appropriate behavior when building a culture of trust.
Clarity – Mental clarity is the state of thinking clearly without confusion and ambiguity. Being clear about expectations, roles, daily activities, organizational mission, and purpose leads to greater productivity. Lack of clarity causes stress and confusion. Role clarity is essential for an employee to be successful and is achieved when an employee knows: exactly what is expected of him within the confines of his job; every single job responsibility; how his work will be evaluated; and how his work contributes to the overall goals of the company.
Compassion – Concern for the misfortune and suffering of others is compassion. To be a compassionate leader is to feel deeply for another person as they experience the ups and downs associated with life. Compassionate leaders understand employees are people first, employees second. They treat others with care and respect the unique qualities each employee brings to the team. Compassionate leaders listen and learn, communicate mindfully, and exemplify unselfishness.
Character – Character is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Leaders with character act with respect, integrity, and ethical behavior even in the face of adversity. They are consistently respectful regardless of how they feel in the moment because they are committed to treating others as they would like to be treated. Leaders with character use their superb communication skills to resolve inevitable workplace conflicts openly and directly.
Competency – Competent managers have the skills, motives, attitudes, practices, and knowledge necessary to successfully perform their job and lead others. They can inspire and motivate others to reach their full potential. Obviously, competencies change, and the most competent leaders stay fresh and current on new ways of doing things through reading, listening, and learning.
Commitment – Commitment shows dedication to an organization, even in difficult times. Employees want to know leadership will stay the course when things get rocky. Committed leaders devote their efforts to achieving a company’s goals and values through a consistent attitude of achievement and a willingness to do what it takes to strengthen an organization.
Connection – It’s no small feat establishing a good connection with someone. The workplace is a hodgepodge of people from various backgrounds with different beliefs and life experiences making connecting challenging. A great leader knows how to find common ground among employees and help them form solid connections that often extend beyond the workplace into their personal lives. Taking the time to really look at others and show a genuine interest in them is a crucial step in forming a good connection and developing a solid relationship. Great leaders listening more and talk less.
Contribution – All the previously mentioned pillars are critical, but a leader who doesn’t contribute and achieve actual results isn’t one who engenders trust from others. When it’s all said and done, people need to see results. Great leaders practice what they preach when contributing to the overall mission of the company.
Consistency – It’s great to demonstrate trustworthy behaviors, but exceptional leaders do it all the time. Consistency is key when aiming for a higher level of trust in the workplace.
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Leading by example is critical when building a culture of trust. Does your corporate leadership recognize the importance of trust, and if so, do your leaders’ behaviors exemplify the 8 pillars of trust? Does leadership understand how difficult it is to build trust and how one misstep can erode, and even permanently damage, a trusting relationship? Is it possible low morale, high turnover and decreased productivity in your organization is a result of a lack of trust among employees? Contact a Smart HR consultant and voice your concerns, discuss possible culprits, and formulate a plan to uncover and resolve lingering issues hurting your company. Get 2023 off to a great start. Call today.