Trust is an intimate word, isn’t it? Merriam Webster defines trust as an “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” To trust someone is to have confidence in who that person is. The words in the definition above that stand out to me are character and truth. To be trusted, you must have a level of integrity. All of these qualities and virtues are mostly inherent, so when trust in a co-worker is lost, rebuilding can feel like an impossible task.
Naturally, the theme of trust is always in play when it comes to professional relationships, but before working with ConvergenceCoaching®, it was not a word that had come up in interactions with my previous employers. I suppose my bosses had enough trust in me to select me for the job, but it just wasn’t something we talked about. Right away, I could see that my current team discusses trust often. This theme shows up frequently in the facilitation of our leadership programs and other offerings. You can search this keyword on our blog and find pages and pages of results. So, what can I say about trust that hasn’t already eloquently been said by my experienced team?
What I have to offer is a different perspective, from that of the offender; of someone having damaged the trust granted to me and working to rebuild it.
The philosophy of building trust at Convergence is to give trust first. From the start, my team has empowered me with all of theirs. Let me tell you; it felt great to be on the receiving end! Though I had much to learn in my role (and still do); right away my coworkers demonstrated their faith in my judgment, character, abilities and potential. This gave me great confidence in my strengths and empowered me to be bold and take action. However, I seemed to develop a blind spot for some of my weaknesses and made a few premature decisions that impacted my team. Of course, this wasn’t what I intended, but in a couple of instances, I made the wrong call and my actions eroded the trust between me and my team.
What I find most challenging about rebuilding trust is letting down the impulse to defend my actions and to take an honest inventory of my weaknesses. In my case, I could trace my missteps back to some of my predictable and problematic tendencies, like working in a vacuum, preferring to honor gut instinct over analytical thinking and acting too quickly. I thought I was doing my co-workers a favor by taking initiative versus asking for their time. I was eager to deliver, to clear my desk. Sure, I could state all of these explanations to my team; in an effort to be understood. However, the need to be understood was for me. What could I do for them? Communication is always valuable, though it wasn’t what my co-workers really needed from me. Recognition is a great first step, followed by commitment, but what truly rebuilds trust is action.
Recognition: I’ve learned that with haste comes a lack of awareness; awareness of self, of others and of the bigger picture. In times of overwhelm, I’m learning the best action I can take is opposite my instinct. The answer isn’t always to work faster or to do more; it is to slow down, take a breath and reset.
It’s important to acknowledge that every team works differently. I’ve worked for people who preferred that I ask fewer questions and take more action. But my current team is highly communicative. Working in a 100% remote environment, we have to be. So, I have some old habits to un-learn and some post-it’s to help me remember what my group needs from me now, like “no-surprises,” “add value,” and “teamwork.” Not quite sure what you need to work on? In her article on Building Trust, Sylvia shares 13 behaviors that build trust, identified by Stephen M.R. Covey in his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Check out this list of behaviors to get your wheels turning and start acknowledging which of those behaviors you could improve upon, and further, which of those behaviors align with the values of your organization.
Commitment: What commitment means to me is to sustain. Commitment is more than making a vow to do better. To me, the word commitment is a verb. It requires us to constantly check ourselves; to take inventory of where we might be sliding into old habits and to revisit our motivation to change. Commitment requires consistency. In her blog on Rebuilding Trust, Sylvia shares what I deem to be the secret ingredient to maintaining your commitment; living in the present. It will do you no good to condemn yourself or throw your hands in the air when you feel you have failed. Instead, you recommit, and start over with humility; letting go of your sense of feeling “wounded,” forgiving yourself and moving on. Your commitment to yourself and your team is important, but wallowing serves no one. Relax. Begin again.
Action: The specific actions you take will be unique to you and your situation, but the key here is to find where you can show up. What projects can you dive into that will strengthen your weak spots? What are you resisting? Where is there a need and how can you offer support? How can you be more engaged with your team? You probably have a full plate and you may feel less-than-motivated to put yourself out there if you feel your coworkers have lost faith in you. Go re-read my last paragraph in this blog and then get ready to dive in. Want to improve your confidence at work? Want to feel more engaged with what you do, more fulfilled? Find where you can add value! This will help you and it will help your team too. Start generating this positive momentum and your sense of purpose and worth will grow; I promise.
So, do you feel you have made missteps and want to rebuild trust with your team? Take ownership, commit to your evolution and take actions that support your commitment. Do not retreat when you fail and remember that with anything, you get out of it only as much as you put in. What steps can you start taking today, to nourish your bond with your team? We’d love to hear from you!