Do They Trust You?

Do They Trust You?

If you view trust as a purely binary concept — yes or no, honest or dishonest —  you will no doubt say that your employees trust you. After all, you don’t lie.

But trust isn’t binary. In enduring relationships (both business and personal) it is more transcendent, comprised of hundreds, if not thousands of micro promises. When broken, one at a time, it may seem benign, but the cumulative effect creates a feeling of, well, untrustworthiness.

For example, I’m your boss and I say:

1. I will review a report you have worked on so you can send it out by the end of the week, but don’t

2. We will have a quarterly employee appreciation lunch, but don’t

3. I will schedule your performance review to take place before year end, but don’t

4. I will talk to a difficult employee who has been disruptive to the staff, but don’t

5. We will institute a profit sharing program, but don’t

6. I will call you tomorrow on XYZ pending items, but don’t

7. We will have weekly staff meetings, but don’t

These are all promises. When people trust each other, there is a tolerance for scheduling mishaps, forgetfulness, distraction and changes in condition. That trust comes from a practice of only making promises in good faith, a track record of keeping promises, and a commitment to never take for granted that others rely on our promises, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. Also, trustworthy people believe in accountability, so when they don’t keep a promise, they acknowledge it, apologize as appropriate, and fix it if they can. Oh, and they don’t keeping breaking the same promises. (Apologies become devalued when they are only offered as appeasement.)

Some may take exception to calling the types of things I mentioned here “promises” or their breach, a “broken promise.” If that’s you, I get it. But even if you don’t call those things promises and the take-away is only that you are unreliable or lack follow through, trust me, you can’t afford that either.

— Marcy