Leader Volume 9, Number 1
to Build Trust
Rinke is a speaker, management consultant, executive coach and
editor of The Winning
Manager newsletter and 12 books including Winning Management: 6
Fail-Safe Strategies for Building High-Performance Organizations
(Achievement Publishers, Clarksville, MD, 1997). For information
about the newsletter and books call (800) 828-9653. He can be
reached at 410-531-9280, e-mail email@example.com or at www.wolfrinke.com.
In my role as a
consultant I find that trust has become a vanishing act.
No wonder, with all the mergers, reengineering, layoffs,
and downsizing employees find it increasingly difficult to trust
management. And why not? After all, trust is the foundation upon
which all relationships and interactions are built! And once that
foundation is destroyed, relationships and interactions no longer
function smoothly, effectively, or productively. So what can you
do to build trust in your organization? You can start by making
sure your word is always as good as gold, that your team members
never have to second-guess anything you tell them, and that they
can count on you to do right by them, your customers, and your
organization. Once you get the basics down pat, here are six
additional steps you can take to get your team members to trust
1: Hold everyone accountable.
Always hold team
members accountable for all their actions. One way to do this is
to have them commit to this powerful axiom: If it's to be, it's up
to me! You might even make up a huge poster with those words
followed by "I hereby commit to take ownership of all my
actions." Then have all team members sign the poster. Once
signed, display it in a conspicuous place for all customers and
team members to see. Also, since it is difficult to establish
accountability among more than about fifty people, make sure that
you subgroup your organization into small business units of
ideally no more than fifty people per group. Typically people act
more responsibly when they are in groups were everyone knows every
one else. It prevents "anomie," the French term that
describes a society that is falling apart because normative
standards of conduct are weak.
2: Establish boundaries.
Trust works when
people know that they can count on each other to do a certain
thing a certain way. How things are done in an organization should
be defined by the organizationís mission, vision, and core
values. Collectively I call that the organizational philosophy.
Once the boundaries are in place you must then discipline yourself
to expect that your team members are going to operate within those
boundaries. (Remember most of us get what we expect.)
Control in such an environment comes after the action, when
results are assessed, instead of telling people what to do or
having them ask permission before taking action. This allows you
to function as a coach instead of a cop, and makes your team
members respect and trust you more.
3: Build a learning organization.
lifelong learning, because it can only come about if people can
count on each other to perform at peak performance. Such
performance is only possible if you have provided people with the
resources to engage in lifelong learning, constant renewal, and
change. To accomplish the latter you must also give people
permission to make mistakes. And the best way to do that is for
you to publicly admit when you have made a mistake. Once your team
members see that you are less than perfect, they too may be
willing to admit it when they make mistakes. This, in turn,
enables your team members to be willing to take calculated risks
and find a better way to do everything all of the time, and then
share both their successes and failures with their team members.
In addition, build a learning library of books, audiotapes and
videotapes that you can use for training purposes, and that team
members can check out to help them become the best they can be.
(Remember, an organization is only as good as it's people.) I
would especially recommend that you encourage your team members to
listen to motivational and educational audiotapes on the way to
work. That way they arrive with a turned on, tuned in, positive
attitude that will enable them to deal more effectively with
stress, get along with their team members and take better care of
4: Practice tough love.
leaders love people the way they are, not the way they ought to
be. And love is not possible without trust. Hence, people who
intentionally and repeatedly abuse trust must be removed from the
organization because you must be able to trust all of your people
all of the time. Otherwise you will revert back to functioning
like an autocratic manager--a manager who does the checking and
controlling in advance, as opposed to operating like a winning
manager who lets the organizational philosophy do the checking and
controlling and only deals with those team members who
intentionally violate that gold standard.
5: Walk your talk.
I know you've
heard this one before; but this is not about hearing, or even
knowing, it is about doing, because trust will only come alive as
a result of reinforcing your words with actions. People are much
more influenced by what you do than by what you say. I have my
seminar participants prove this to themselves by having everyone
stand and look at me, and follow my directions. I tell them to
extend their right arm, just as I am doing. Next I tell them to
form a circle with their index finger and thumb, and place that
circle on their cheek. As I say ďcheek,Ē I put my thumb and
index finger circle on my chin. What happens next is quite
comical. Most people look like they have early onset of
Alzheimerís disease because their arm will tremble as they waver
between cheek and chin. Others place the circle on the chin and
canít quite understand what the fuss is all about. Typically
only a few people will follow my verbal instructions and place the
circle on their cheek. Next I have them look at each other, which
results in another salvo of snickers and laughter, and have them
tell me what happened. Of course, they tell me that they were
influenced much more by my actions than my words. The same is true
for your team members! Thatís why you must be the role model for
6. Practice high-touch.
increasingly be the norm as we move toward virtual organizations.
Without high touch, however, in the form of meetings,
organizational retreats, and conferences, trust will wither on the
vine. There simply is no shortcut to developing trust with another
human being. It canít be done via the Internet, voice mail,
faxes, or other electronic media. It requires you to be belly to
belly, nose to nose, eye to eye with another human being, so that
you can make sure that a personís body language reinforces and
supports his words. So be sure to get out of your office and spend
quality time with the people who are responsible for 85 percent of
your success--your team members.