There have been some instances in my life when my gut told me something that I ignored and I lived to regret. Most of those instances have been times when my gut was telling me that the person I was working with, or selling to, or partnering with, was someone I could not trust. In almost every instance my gut proved right, and I was left wishing I had listened to my gut instincts.
To me, trust is probably the most important and least discussed aspect of working effectively and efficiently. If I trust that the people around me are doing their jobs well, and the processes and systems make sense, and that my management has the right values and places a high level of importance on my work, I can commit fully, mentally and physically, to my work. If my level of trust begins to falter, my work will suffer as well. I want to work where I can fully "plug in" to the culture and think that my belief in other people and their determination to do the right thing and to work as hard and as effectively as possible is the same as mine.
Trust is something that is earned by a manager or by a co-worker. Trust comes from:
1. Doing what you say and saying what you'll do. We build trust with each other by living up to our commitments. My productivity and efficiency are impacted when I trust team members to deliver on a promised deadline or produce a product of high quality and they don't. Now my work is effected and I have more work to do because I placed my trust in them.
2. Being open and honest. Trust comes from being honest about your skills, your abilities, the things you know and can share with others. No one can trust someone who constantly withholds information for their own gain or to slight others. No one can trust someone who is prone to exaggerate or to shade the truth.
3. Walking the walk of the corporate culture. Trust is built when people can look around and see that the "values" in the value statements and mission statements aren't just words but are put into practice by the people in the organization. How we work together, how we treat each other and our vendors and partners, says a lot about us as a firm. Does your culture present a face to the world that people can trust?
4. What you leave behind. Once you are gone, what will your team members say about you? What will your clients say about your firm? Will they say - "Those guys lived up to every expectation" or will they say something else. The problem with things like reputation and trust is that we build them ourselves, but other people advertise them for us.
Consider, for a moment, working in a place where there is a lack of trust. Perhaps you don't trust the people upstream from you to do a good job. Your expectations of their work are low, and you will feel the pressure to "fix" or change their work before passing it along. Your lack of trust - and their lack of faith in doing the best work - means that the products or services you provide take longer to deliver and are lower in quality than necessary. Also, it will grate on you that your management team can't or won't change the evident problem upstream from you. That will cause you to lose trust in your management. Now, when new projects or work is presented, you look at the directions from your manager in the less-trusting lens. You'll try to find the concerns or problems with the work, again distracting you from committing completely and fully to the task. A little distrust goes a long way to destroying the fabric of your working environment.
What does your firm do to establish and retain your trust? Does it enforce a positive and effective culture? Does it do the right thing, regardless of the consequences? Is the communication open and honest? If not, what can you do to change it?