Gaining and Losing TrustIn 1997 Development Dimensions International (DDI) published results of a survey (pdf) concerning trust in the workplace that are still being cited in discussions of the factors that affect the level of trust positively and negatively. (For example, see this article in the June 2006 issue of CFO magazine.)
The survey results indicated that the top five trust-building behaviors are:
- Communicating openly and honestly, without distorting any information.
- Showing confidence in employees' abilities by treating them as skilled, competent associates.
- Keeping promises and commitments.
- Listening to and valuing what others say, even though you might not agree.
- Cooperating with employees and looking for ways in which you and your associates can help each other.
- For leaders, it is especially important for building trust to make sure one's words match one's actions and to demonstrate confidence in one's direct reports.
- Relative to leaders, for peers to build trust it is especially important to cooperate. Relative to direct reports, it is especially important for peers to listen to and value what people say.
- Relative to leaders and peers, for direct reports to build trust it is especially important to share one's thoughts and feelings, to keep one's promises, and to cooperate with one's leaders.
- Acting more concerned about your own welfare than anything else.
- Sending mixed messages so employees never know where they stand.
- Avoiding taking responsibility for your actions.
- Jumping to conclusions without checking the facts first.
- Making excuses or blaming others when things do not work out.
- For leaders, it is especially damaging to be concerned mostly about one's own welfare and to send mixed messages.
- Relative to direct reports, for peers it is especially damaging to be concerned mostly about one's own welfare and to go behind other people's backs.
- Relative to leaders and peers, for direct reports it is especially damaging to avoid responsibility and to make excuses or blame others. Also, though not among the top five trust reducers, two additional factors especially damaging for direct reports are to break promises and to see things in black and white.