Issues associated with creating an organizational culture where trust is practiced has been receiving increased attention in management and strategic planning circles.

The rationale is simple: employees who work in an atmosphere of trust tend to be more effective at what they do, and these environments are reporting recognizable cost efficiencies as a result. Trust can help lower internal costs. You need fewer quality control stations, middle managers and other control points when you assume trust among your employees.

There is documentation that indicates when trust levels are high in relationship to fear, people and organizational systems function well. But when fear is high, relative to trust, the same people and systems break down.

Fear typically constrains people who in turn, reduce their effectiveness. When people fear they become congested, inhibited and restrictive. They slow their processes and become overly cautious, which reduces their imaginative options.

People who work in organizations where a lack of trust is evident become demoralized and begin to believe they are oppressed the end results are lower efficiencies and higher costs.

Trust, on the other hand, frees a person’s creativity and allows them to focus energies on possibilities of an improved future rather than on defending past actions.

Trust increases opportunities for others to focus on the future and on enhancing organizational systems and outputs. People who work in trusting conditions believe they are valued and, in turn, become energized to improve what-ever they are working on.

Trust is an integrating holistic viewpoint that unleashes a creative potential in employees. Energy is created and released in organizations where trust is prevalent and this in turn, contributes to a state where thinking is more focused and where people act in more direct and effective ways.

When trust is high, employees and their social systems transcend boundaries while discovering unknown abilities to function better than counterparts who operate defensively when in restricted environments of fear. Trust helps reduce employee turnover, inspires loyalty and builds morale.

Being transparent and open with information are keys to creating trust. Openness of actions, honesty in stating causes for activities and open minds all make for greater trust, up and down an organization’s hierarchy.

It takes time to build trust, and yet, it can be destroyed by one simple foolish act. Think about the consequences for customers, employees and other stakeholders before you engage in any activity that could compromise trust.

Trust is multidimensional. Trust exists between co-workers in a work unit, in networks among friends, and within families. When thinking about creating trust include thoughts about the multiplier effect that occurs when trust is exhibited. Trust results in reactions that are greater than the sum of the actions that create trust in the first place.

Trust has two enemies, which are bad character and poor information. Both of these adversarial issues can result when people innocently withhold information from one another.

There is evidence that employees want their supervisors to have integrity, but this issue is a two-way street. Employees and employers alike must possess integrity. Integrity relates to following one’s values and being true to those values. In turn, integrity creates a foundation for respect and trust to flourish.

Operating with integrity means behaving like the person you want others to be. Adopting the Golden Rule of doing unto others what you would have them do unto you demonstrates integrity. This integrity ingredient is essential to developing a trusting atmosphere.

But, there more to trust than simply possesses a set of values that demonstrate integrity. All persons have to adopt the operating principles of integrity. Trust can only exist in environments where values associated with possessing integrity are meshed with day-to-day transactions between people. Trust is the by product of matching values and behaviors.

Trust can only exist in environments where people say and do the same things. Modern-day jargon refers to this as: “walking the talk.”

Trust can enrich one’s experiences whereas fear can rob any feelings from any practice that we as human beings can encounter. Trust enhances all other process and can be contagious. Trust frequently softens our perceptions and makes us less dangerous to others.

Fear, on the other hand, breed danger as it triggers a defensive mechanism in us that ultimately escalates tension that becomes self-fulfilling as it causes additional dangers to be identified that would be ignored in a trusting environment.

Maintaining a work environment built on trust can unleash the potential of employees who in turn can move an organization forward toward its goals.

Article from the SundayJanuary25, 2004 edition of the Telegraph Herald written by Dr. Alan Lisk.

Alan Lisk, Ph.D., is an associate Professor of Business at the University of Dubuque.

Learn more about how The Genesis Process© can build and restore trust among your employees and truly unlock and unleash their full potential to help you meet your success goals.


Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

© The Genesis Process - 2010 All Rights Reserved