Put your trust in someone, they say. But in the relationship between boss and employees as well as among colleagues, trust today is often more like a sham than a real gift. Despite the supposed culture of trust, distrust, fear, and control determine large parts of everyday working life. What trust has to do with gifts and what you as a manager or as an employee among colleagues can do so that trust is not just a sham, but a real gift.
Trust: Real gift or sham packaging?
Employees want more freedom in their work, especially the younger generations. Your boss should trust them that they are doing a given task in their own way and that they are not constantly monitoring them. For many people, behind trust in the job is security, belonging, collegiality, helpfulness, and mutual appreciation. Trust is the basis for efficient teamwork, while mistrust means critical observation of behavior, control.
How is the culture of trust in German companies? In coaching, I experience executives who express their trust in their employees, but at the latest in the event of a conflict or under pressure, they take authoritative action and pursue their own interests. I experience employees who avoid colleagues or their boss on the gauntlet, who deliberately withhold information, and are closest to themselves. The whole spectrum of nasty office illnesses: from power games to intrigues to public blame.
Do you also have so-called trust-based working hours? If so, how much trust is there really, or do you have to explain yourself when you go to the doctor in the morning and add the lesson in the evening? Do you work from home and do you also have to maintain Excel lists as evidence of your activities? Today all this is confidently packed in a sham package.
I see it as a danger in our faster and more complex working world that trust as a good relationship between people in companies is increasingly becoming a sham. To a good-sounding empty phrase without any real experience. A nicely wrapped gift that, after opening the colorful packaging, turns out to be a zero number or even mistrust and control.
Trust, they say. So what makes trust a real gift at work?
Gifts have to please the recipient
The other day, after a lecture in front of executives, a participant asked me how I can get an employee to take on more responsibility in a team. I asked her whether she was even sure that this employee really wanted to take on responsibility? – She got thinking.
Responsibility and the trust behind it are not something that can be simply prescribed. It only works if both sides really want it and if it is attractive to them. Some employees are afraid of being more responsible and overwhelming them. Often also because they have had bad experiences in the past with trust and acceptance of responsibility, for example when mistakes have occurred.
Giving trust only works if, on the other hand, it is valued as a real gift. Trust not as an empty phrase or even a threat, but as a serious appreciation.
As a manager or among colleagues, take a conscious look at whether the person you want to place your trust in actually perceives this as a gift, wants to accept it, and knows how to appreciate it.
Gifts are an expression of appreciation
Suppose your boss is so overwhelmed that he thinks about letting you do a job for you. Perhaps he thinks “I can’t take care of that too.” Or “Not much can happen there anyway.” Because of this motivation, he puts his trust in you. Not an expression of real appreciation, is it?
Putting your trust in someone is a temporary decision and therefore more than a fixed idea out of necessity or a whim. If the other person does not appreciate it, there is a high risk that the trust that has been transferred will be devalued and even perceived as a negative experience and saved for the future.
Trust without appreciation is like a gift that is wrapped up in a corner unrecognized. Consciously give away trust and also be aware of the associated obligations and consequences of this gift, because…
A gift is a gift!
How would you react if you received a present for your birthday and the well-wisher took it back afterward?
It is the order of the day in day-to-day work that the trust that has been given away is withdrawn sooner or later. As a manager or among colleagues, pay attention to this, and you will be shocked how often it happens.
If responsibility is really a gift, then it is not appropriate to let the recipient unpack it and admire it and then tear it out of their hands the next moment – provided that the recipient’s trust has not been damaged.
Giving away trust obliges. As a manager, you destroy trust when you first signal to your employees that you trust their solution-finding skills and let them do it, but ultimately destroy their suggestions with “I had a different idea!” Or “It doesn’t work that way!” do.
The other day I wrote about “You should work, not think!” over on XING. If that’s what employees feel at work, then I suspect that trust that was given away in the past was regularly nipped in the bud here.
This is how you give real trust in your job
Trust is an advance transaction
At the beginning of every interpersonal relationship, there is a leap of faith. Our trust in people grows when we don’t have bad experiences with them. Friendly, appreciative communication also builds trust. Use the natural leap of faith to actively strengthen trust.
Trust comes from reliable experience
Don’t just talk about trust or write it on your website, make trust tangible. What is your answer to the question of how will your co-workers or co-workers notice that you really trust them? How is trust shown in everyday life? What can you consciously do every day in order not to fuel mistrust but to strengthen trust?
Trust only develops over time
It is not enough to express your trust in your employees once a year in an appraisal interview. As a manager and as an employee among colleagues, you create trust by consciously and omnipresently aligning your thoughts and actions with it. It is often the first step to consciously refrain from actions that arouse suspicion, fear, or the feeling of being overly controlled.
Trust grows in difficult situations
Trust is more than familiarity. Being always nice as a boss and hoping to build trust is a misconception. Trust is the certainty that you can rely on one another. This feeling does not result from taking a cuddle course, but from experiences in difficult situations. Especially when it comes to conflicting interests or your own reputation.
In the event of a conflict, trust grows through clarity in positioning and the will to resolve the conflict together. As a manager, take a clear stand instead of trying to please everyone in need of harmony. Don’t be a flag in the wind, be predictable. Trust grows from clarity.
Trust requires openness
“You can’t trust the management!” or “All bosses don’t keep promises” are supposed truths, perhaps based on generalized experiences or conflicts in the form of legacy issues. Just because a colleague has bullied you in the past, there can be nice colleagues in your new job. Just because your last boss was an idiot doesn’t mean all bosses are incapable. Make sure that bad experiences do not lead to a loss of trust, but rather be open to new encounters and give yourself and other people the chance to get to know each other genuinely.
Trust is the experience of personal attitude
Trust and the culture of trust in organizations are individual. There is neither a programmable on/off switch nor a general recipe for this. Trust depends on the respective environment and the prevailing image of people, the leadership and type of communication as well as the level of development of an organization.
Find your own path and the right attitude for you and your environment to build trust in the people in your environment and to work as a community to establish and maintain an appreciative culture of trust.