Thursday, November 17, 2005

Trust: How to Maintain It

(Part Four of a multipart series)

In previous posts we have explored the definition of trust, why it is needed for an organization to remain healthy and then the role the leader plays in building trust. In today's post we will look at how leaders maintain trust.

The best way to maintain trust in the workplace is to keep it from being broken in the first place. Integrity in the leadership of an organization is absolutely critical. Another critical factor that can break a trust relationship is how leaders communicate with staff and the truthfulness, or transparency, of that communication. Leaders and organizations promote a trusting environment when there is a strong, unifying mission and vision. By providing information about the rationale, background, and thought processes behind decisions will also build and maintain trust. People, too, are more apt to trust their organization when it is successful and their own competence, contribution and direction are recognized as being part of that big picture.

Unfortunately, even in an organization where trust is a priority, things can happen, even on a daily basis, that break down the trust relationships. Whether it is a misunderstood communication; an incorrectly filled customer order or an employee question that goes unanswered; all can erode the trust an employee places in their leader and/or organization. Looking at Tway's trust model, people are taught to mistrust as they are repeatedly misinformed and misled. It can happen so quickly and yet so innocently.

In summary, leaders and organizations who truly put trust as a high priority will be watchful of small signs where a breakdown in communication or process may have occurred and wisely, and quickly, resolve the problem, sometimes through the help of others, to avoid a larger and full breakdown of the entire trust model.

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved

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