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Evaluate your TRUST FACTOR (i.e. promises made vs promises broken)

As leaders we all want to recruit and keep the most valuable employees/team members … that’s a given … right? Often the key to doing this is making sure that what we promise matches what our employees or team members think we promised. In my experience (and evidence supported in various leadership research studies), people’s poor attitude and lack of commitment to you, the team, or the company are often based on the individual’s perceptions that employers (aka you the leader) have not fulfilled stated promises or provided any explanation as to why promises were broken.

Time and time again, leadership research studies repeatedly report that salary rewards, bonuses and perks are not as important to employees as autonomy, personal growth, job security and meaningful work … and we leaders continue to ignore or blatantly underestimate the research discoveries especially when we are designing our work structures. Implicitly or explicitly, we communicate conflicting terms when making “psychological contracts” with employees or team members. What we promise is often what we don’t deliver especially when change is moving at rapid speed and we have fewer resources to get the job done.

How many times have you broken your promises or psychological contracts with employees, team members, colleagues, stakeholders, customers, your community or family members?

I am no stranger to being backed in a corner where I’ve had to consciously or unconsciously break my promises with key stakeholders. My trust factor is always evaluated by how I go about breaking my promises or sharing difficult messages … hence one of my favored reminder quotes below to keep me on the straight and narrow for leading confidently.

“What upsets me is not that you lied to me … it is that from now on, I can no longer believe you.” – Frederick Nietzsche

I’ve worked in teams where promises were no longer believable or respected and as such really put a hurt on building trusting partnerships.

Evaluate Your Trust Factor

The ability to win people’s trust is a core focus for confident leadership. Trust is built on the premise that you can keep confidences, you admit your mistakes, you collaborate as a team member, you follow through on commitments, and you don’t misrepresent yourself or undermine others for your personal gain.

  1. Do you tell the truth … especially when you are the bearer of bad news? Very often in the workplace, “telling it like it is” amounts to professional suicide. It is not uncommon where some people prefer to receive messages based on what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. This is usually a practiced behavior especially when tough messages need to be delivered to stakeholders and decision makers. Sometimes we think we are buying time to delivering better news. In the long run, there is no other way to earn the trust of employees, team members, colleagues, customers and other stakeholders than to come clean regarding the way things really are.
  2. Do you tackle problems head on, avoid them or pretend they don’t exist? When you create an environment where the prevailing attitude is to always cooperate and rarely confront situations, bet your bottom dollar that you can expect problems to fester under the surface and ruin your chance of building trust.
  3. Do you derail agreements? Who hasn’t been to a meeting where everyone “agreed” on a decision then ran back to their desks to lobby against it or even sabotage it? Do you practice this behavior? If you do, stop … this is a sure ticket to losing trust. If you see others behaving in this manner … coach them to better behavior.
  4. Do you welcome the truth? It is human nature to defend yourself against criticism and to attack when you feel attacked. A confident leader not only welcomes feedback, he/she seeks it out and makes every effort to improve on areas within their control.

So, how are your trustworthy practices? How are the trustworthy practices of your team and your company? In what areas do you see room for improvement? What is your plan to close the gap?

To your continued success?

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