Two people shaking hands - how to build trust in a workplace relationship.

Why Can Trust be So Hard?

And Why Should We Care about Answering the Question?

Generally, in organisations and society, we don’t do too well with trust. Yet trust is at the heart of every relationship, and it’s especially critical in the workplace. In fact, the primary factor affecting employee turnover is whether or not a trusting relationship was developed between the manager and the employee. However, 82% of people say they don’t trust their boss to tell the truth and 45% of employees say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance (Edelman Trust Barometer).

…82% of people say they don’t trust their boss to tell the truth and 45% of employees say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance…

In contrast, high trust organisations experience 32x greater risk-taking, 11x more innovation, and 6x higher performance. And at a human level, treating each other with respect and forming good relationships feels like the right thing to do.

I know in my career, for example, I have been part of many teams – some were great, some average and some were downright bad! My first job was as a police officer. I spent 17 years in this role – and during this time there were many teams that worked well. On reflection, I think they worked well because, in general, there were high levels of transparency. There was very little game-playing, politics or maneuvering. You knew where you stood. We just got on and did the job, sometimes in very challenging circumstances. However, transparency alone isn’t enough.

Trust as a Multi-Dimensional Construct

To help leaders better understand trust, I developed a model based on the best available information, research and my own experience in terms of what actually works. This model isn’t the work of an academic, but it is based on solid evidence. Making even small improvements in one or more of the five elements can make a big difference in how trustworthy we are perceived as being.

To borrow a principle from Stephen R. Covey, the speed of trust is directly related to the speed of business. In other words, increased trust means increased speed of business, both in terms of execution, relationships, team dynamics and living a fulfilling life.

Five Elements of Trust: Your Key to Building High-Trust Relationships

As can be seen in the model (below), trust comprises five critical and interdependent elements. Over the coming weeks, I will discuss each in more depth.

2-1030x578 Why Can Trust be So Hard?

So, Why Can Trust be Hard?

Why is trust hard? Because we are human – full of feelings, aspirations, fears and yes, potential.

…it doesn’t have to be this way – and that despite our ‘humanness’, we can live, lead and love in ways that create high-trust, safe and mutually beneficial relationships where we can each thrive…

Our sweaty little egos create fertile ground for disagreement, conflict and poor behaviour. My contention, however, is that it doesn’t have to be this way – and that despite our ‘humanness’, we can live, lead and love in ways that create high-trust, safe and mutually beneficial relationships where we can each thrive and live fulfilling lives. It just takes a bit of work and the right approach.

I’ll be writing about each element in more detail in the coming weeks. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you.

All the best – Phil