Vol V: Building & Keeping Trust


In last week’s article, Building Trust Means Being Trustworthy, I highlighted 6 attributes of trust. This week, I want to show some examples of how to put those attributes into action. Even with the best of intentions, if you don’t follow through on all the attributes in your decision making process, you can wind up hurting trust rather than improving it.

For our first example, suppose you are a team leader and one of your employees approaches you about their work assignment. They don’t like the area they’ve been assigned to. The easy decision would be to swap their area with a coworker. That might make that employee happy, but what happens when we look at our trustworthiness attributes, specifically, Fairness?

Making a swap for one employee may make that employee happy, but what about their co-workers? Are you showing favoritism for that employee? Even if you aren’t, will others perceive it as favoritism?

You could avoid any pitfalls by having a systematic way of assigning work and schedules that includes how employee requested transfers will be handled. This process would ensure that everyone knows the rules and they know the rules are being followed consistently – this builds trust.

Our second example highlights Transparency. In the airline business getting planes out on time is essential, there are a lot of factors that go into getting planes out on time, and not all of them are visible to customers. In one case, maintenance crews were finding that customers often flushed the paper towels used in the aircraft lavatories which created clogs and delayed flight departures in order to fix the problem. The problem was researched and the paper towels were replaced with a more biodegradable option, causing less clogs and less delays. Problem solved, right? Except… the biodegradable paper towels were thinner and lighter, and the flight attendants did not know why the change was made, they thought the change was a cost-savings initiative and saw it as the company being ‘cheap’. If the airline communicated transparently this change would have been viewed by all parties as a positive and not a negative.

In both of these examples, a few simple questions would have helped the outcome. Here’s my checklist of questions I use when making important decisions to ensure that I’m working toward building and keeping trust:

  1. How is this decision going to be perceived by employees?
  2. Am I looking at the big picture and how others will be affected?
  3. Am I communicating in a way that answers all potential questions proactively?
  4. Have I considered how this decision could appear to my customers?
  5. Is there a way my actions can ensure buy in and consensus without losing the intent of the decision?

The goal of these questions is to ensure that when making decisions, we look at the big picture. When taking other’s perception into account proactively, we can often build and maintain trust.

Please join the conversation….

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