„The best way to learn if you can trust somebody is to trust them.“ Ernest Hemingway said that. The dude who wrote some of the world’s most famous books, which implies that he may had some of the “best words” as well. However, in a world dominated by complexity and an exceptional amount of fancy buzzwords, the relevance of trust for long-term business success is indisputable. Why? Some things in work, and in life, are unmeasurable and bring the heart and soul of a company to life. Referring to the notion of trust, we have to talk about a strategically critical issue to create employee and customer relationships that really matter because a relationship without trust is not a relationship at all.
This especially applies for teams within an organization – the moment a person is not trusted by an individual or a team, their chances for success within that group are diminished dramatically. Thus, one of the major challenges companies are facing today is the building of an internal trust culture that results in a healthy and productive work environment. While hopefully everybody nods in silence reading this, the definition of trust is still surprisingly vague. Let’s take a closer look.
Can Trust be defined? Yes, it can! Obama out.
The Oxford Dictionary defines trust as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”. Sounds like a good start, doesn’t it? In the end trust is both an emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, but believing they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected utility based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in a predictable manner. In practice, trust is a bit of both. We trust people because we have experienced their trustworthiness and because we have faith in human nature. We feel trust. Emotions associated with trust include companionship, friendship, love, agreement, relaxation, comfort. In summary, trust is a complex construct defined by different dimensions like predictability, reliability and value exchange within social interactions.
Trust as an integral part of our daily business
When it comes to business, the development of the described internal trust culture is more than ambitious. In fact, it is damn hard. So how can this noble goal can be achieved at all? To be honest, this cannot be described within just one blog article. But at least let my try.
Trust does not just appear out of nowhere from one day to another. Every day presents a new challenge and a new opportunity and ultimately, it is all about the relationships we forge: be it with employees, customers or the pizza delivery guy, who once again saved another day in the office. A healthy and trustworthy organization is characterized by people who seek to understand instead of judging. People who are loyal to another and keep their word. A system where people take issues directly to source without talking behind each other’s backs and simultaneously express genuine appreciation up, down, and across the respective organizational structure. Furthermore, I refer to organizations where helping others is not just a part of the internal communications campaign, but a real habit. In a nutshell, trust starts with small acts of kindness and is cultivated by a daily dose of honesty and integrity. Sometimes even a smile might work unexpected wonders.
And one last quick thought if I may. Often some of the habits described above are associated with certain values usually every company has. At least on some fancy-pancy slidedecks and the posters in the cafeteria. But how about integrating these values into the day-to-day business? How about a regular values meeting, where people discuss and reflect on the values they have given themselves? How about doing this across every organizational level and department and defining this as the basis for upcoming business decisions? Just a thought.
I am Kim, Revolution Evangelist and New Work Expert at 1789 – Beyond Revolution, an entrepreneur with a focus on making peoples lives better by transforming the way we work and feel in my role as a mentor for large corporations. Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Do you want to share your story? Please leave a comment below.