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Trust begins at the core of a person. What makes us trust someone? What makes someone trust us? Five attributes are consistently linked to trust. The International Association of Business Communications studied these attributes in 53 organizations on four different continents. And found them to hold true, meaning these five predictors of trust are consistent across industries, languages even cultures. So do this quick assessment for me as I introduce the big five trust attributes.
Use the trust building action plan to evaluate your immediate supervisor on a scale of one to ten where one is weak,. And ten is strong on these five predictors of trust. First, competent. Remember one is weak, ten is strong. Does your boss have the skills and the intelligence to make good calls? Second, reliable. Does your boss follow through on promises? Third, open and honest. Are you told the truth even when it isn't good news? Is your supervisor forthright about issues that affect you? Next, consistent in behaviors and spoken values.
Let me explain this one with an example. I once did some training workshops for a corporation that claimed training was a core value. And true to their word, the executive team arranged a lot of training and were willing to pay good money to bring in consultants to do the training. But throughout my seminar, I realized that everyone was checking their phones and their tablets. I started worrying I had become the world's most boring trainer. So at the first break, I asked someone, is, is everything okay? And this guy looked at me and said, yeah, why? >> I said, well, people are checking their phones, so I was just worried that maybe I wasn't being relevant or something's going on.
He laughed and said, "Oh no, we always have to check our phones and emails. Our executive team wants us to keep working while in training." Well, that's ridiculous. No one can be expected to learn a new skill while still juggling everything that you have to do every day. Talk about a disconnect between spoken values and actual behaviors. Does your immediate supervisor walk the talk? And there is the last one, concern for others.
This gets back to the very definition of trust. Do you believe your boss has your best interest in mind when making decisions? So, how did your supervisor do overall? For your sake, I hope he or she did great. But now, do the same assessment but, think of your boss's boss or your boss's boss's boss. Consider someone way up on the company ladder. A senior executive. And do the same assessment, one to ten. How does this person do on competency? Reliability? Openness and honesty? Consistency in behavior and spoken values, and concern for others.
Who scored higher on the assessment? Was it your direct supervisor, for most people it is. Generally as a person climbs the company ladder, it gets harder and harder to maintain the trust of others. In that Blessing and White survey that I mentioned earlier, 74% of employees trusted their immediate supervisor. Only 57% trusted senior leaders in the organization. It makes sense when you think about it. You have less contact with employees the higher you are in the organization.
So people have less time to get to know senior leaders. Less insight to understand why leaders decide the things they do or act the way they do. Now what does this mean for us? Well, maybe we should cut our senior leaders some slack. But more importantly as we ourselves try to grow our career, we have to remember that building trust is going to get harder and harder to do. The more people you manage, the likelier it is for you to get lower scores. But just because it gets harder, doesn't mean it matters less.
You still need the trust of your employees to increase speed and decrease cost. You need their trust to encourage innovation and high morale. You need their trust, period. And, you need to be able to trust them.
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