The Secret to More Engaged Employees – Trust
One word has been cropping up in my conversations recently. As I coached clients and had conversations with colleagues, many mentioned that they were not completely satisfied with their jobs. I was struck when over a span of a few weeks, I heard the word “trust” or lack thereof as the main reason for their dissatisfaction.
The lack of trust by bosses that their employees could do the job they were given was a major factor in employee engagement. This lack of trust made my clients and colleagues feel like they did not want to give their best to the organisation and were not inspired to give their best. As expected, this led to a vicious downward spiral of low engagement and lack of trust feeding each other.
My own experience with trust has been similar. Bosses and colleagues who gave me the parameters of a project and then let me just “get on with it” are the ones I still remember. Those were the projects I put in my heart and soul, bent over backwards to make sure all went well and had a huge sense of satisfaction at the end of the project. I felt I owed it to my bosses to keep them updated on the projects. Other projects where I experienced low levels of trust, I ho-hummed my way through without much passion for the project.
So what is trust and why does it impact us at such a fundamental level?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, trust is the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest and effective”. This is quite hard-hitting as it implies that we do not think someone is reliable, good, honest or effective when we don’t trust them. Subconsciously, this is probably why we feel unmotivated or uninspired when someone does not trust us. It is almost like they are doubting our reliability and effectiveness.
But trust needs to be earned, right? Well, yes and no. Trust is a mindset. If you trust others, your outlook of them changes. They will feel your trust and respond accordingly and you will sense them responding and feel even better – thus creating a virtuous cycle.
Of course there will be instances when we are betrayed by the people we trust. We may start to doubt our ability to trust others and become cynical. I think this is precisely the time when we should increase our level of trust in others. Trust even more when you feel you have been betrayed. Others are watching us to see how we handle betrayal. The more open and honest we are with our feelings, the faster we will heal and have a positive impact on those around us. Don’t give your power away to someone who betrays your trust. The sooner you start your healing process and bounce back with trusting others, the faster you will feel powerful again.
How to you build trust in an organisation?
As with everything else in an organisation, trust needs to be made intentional. And for it to be intentional, trust needs to be coupled with accountability. Thus employees are made accountable for their projects with the appropriate management support they require. The organisation’s leaders of course have a key role in setting the tone but it is not solely up to them. Employees at all levels need to have a mindset of trust for it to perpetuate in the organisation. That implies that trust needs to be given upwards too.
Every time you give trust, notice the difference it makes to your relationship with that person. Notice also how you feel and the effect trust has on you. And the next time someone betrays your trust, remember not to give your power away to that person. Start your healing process and bounce right back in trusting others again.