Java with Joe: It’s Not about Building Trust…It’s about Building Belief!


In these Java with Joe sessions, we talk about the questions that many leaders are struggling with as they work to build a more engaged workforce and a more productive organization. If you’d like to join the conversation with a comment or a question of your own, something that’s keeping you up at night, please jump in.

So, here we go.

To say that this presidential election was one of the most controversial and emotional in recent memory would be a complete understatement!  No matter how you voted, you’d probably agree that one of the election’s most noteworthy ( or should I say depressing?) features is that despite the very real differences between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump, they both had one thing in common: according to the polls (which of course had some issues of their own), both candidates set record “lows” for trustworthiness.

Trust matters. No organization—whether it’s a small business, a Fortune 100 global giant, or the government of a nation—can function effectively over the long term unless its people basically believe that its leaders can generally be trusted to speak the truth and do the right thing.  That’s undoubtedly why I’m so often asked by leaders I meet with, “How can I build greater trust in my organization among our employees? ”

I think the answer is embedded in the last paragraph. If you want to build trust among your employees, you have to change what they believe about your organization. More specifically, you need to create an environment that encourages your employees to hold these five critical beliefs:

 “I believe our leaders are genuinely connected to the mission of the organization, and put that mission first in their decision making.  

“I believe our leaders are thoughtful and predictable in their decision making.”

 “I believe our leaders care about me and what’s important to me.”

 “I believe our leaders value and respect my opinion.”  

“I believe our leaders understand and appreciate what it takes to get my job done.”

How do you build these beliefs? You do the things we talk about in this blog all the time. You talk to your people about the organization’s mission, about what it means to you personally. You explain how any given decision is related to that mission. You put yourself in your employees’ shoes, just as you do with your customers; you ask what’s important to them, and what the organization can do to meet those needs. Then you make a genuine effort to deliver on those ideas—or explain why you can’t. You set a high bar for performance, do everything you can to remove the barriers to your employees’ success, and celebrate when they  “do the ordinary things exceptionally well.” You say thanks more often, and place blame less often.

Do these things day in and day out, and your employees will believe in you and your organization. Do these things and your employees will trust you, because you’ve earned their trust.

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