Have we Built Trust in our Workplaces?

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on June 6th, 2017

Do I trust myself to do the right thing at the workplace? Do I trust my colleague from another department to do their best in a cross-functional team project? Do I trust my staff to do the right thing even when I am away? Do we trust our CEOs or the Board to have the best interest of the organization and the staff at heart? Do our customers trust us? While some organizations have built high levels of trust at the workplace and with their customers, many others are struggling with distrust. A friend who facilitates Stephen M. R. Covey’s ‘The Speed of Trust’ training program reckons that organizations need to do much more to build trust with both staff and customers. The oxford dictionary defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. What is your level of trust?

Workplaces can either have high or low levels of trust. In the low trust work environments that I have come across, dishonesty is common, there is fear and tension. In addition, negativity and suspicion characterises such environments and gossip is commonplace. Because of lack of trust, there is no unity of purpose and teamwork is almost always non-existence. Managers and staff alike try to outdo each other. Unfortunately, low trust work environments yield low productivity and low efficiency. This is despite the fact that such environments experience high-pressure. Lack of trust slows us down. Many of us are quick to identify or have witnessed environments where there is no trust or where the trust levels are low.

On the contrary, high trust work environments are vibrant. In such work environments, people believe in one another. Trust is especially important in interpersonal relations. Workmates who trust one another work better together. They are confident in their ability and the ability of others to get the job done. High levels of trust are seen in how we work together day in day out. Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert considers trust in the workplace to be like oxygen, it is needed for survival. Managers who trust employees receive trust back. Is trust evident in your workplace?

Stephen M. R. Covey’s in his book ‘The Speed of Trust’ points out that we are in a crisis of trust. He goes on to explain that trust affects our speed and lack of trust is expensive. Building trust takes time and effort. Those in leadership must consistently aim to build trust in their everyday decisions and actions.

This year’s Customer Service Week celebrated every first full of October is an opportunity to drive the trust agenda. The Customer Service group an organization that pushes the Customer Service Week agenda internationally recently shared this year’s theme as ‘Building Trust’. Building trust starts from the inside before it can flow out to the outside world. Therefore, if we wish to build trust with our customers, we need to start by building trust with our staff. Roger Staubach a legendary Cowboys football player says, “If you do not have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers”.

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy