Architects of Trust: Building Trust in the Workplace Ann Brown, MA

Architects of Trust:
Building Trust in the
Ann Brown, MA
A&R Brown Business Group Inc.
Some Survey Numbers
70% of employees believe that trust and
loyalty within the firms is declining
60% do not believe that their management
is upright, ethical and honest
70% won’t speak up because they fear
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50% believe that lack of trust is a problem
in their workplace (57 organizations
One Bottom Line Number
•6,500 employees surveyed at 76 Holiday Inn
international hotels
•Correlated with customer satisfaction
scores, personnel records and hotel revenues
•0.125 (1/8th) improvement in employee
trust ratings (5 point scale) should improve
hotel profitability by $250,000
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•Hotels where managers were perceived to
follow through on their promises were more
What is Trust?
Trust n.& v. 1.
(a) a firm belief in the reliability or truth or strength etc.
of a person or thing (b) the state of being relied on 2. a
confident expectation 3. (a) a thing or person committed
to one’s care (b) the resulting obligation or
responsibility (OED)
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The act of placing yourself in the
vulnerable position of relying on
others to treat you in a fair, open,
and honest way
Where Do We Trust?
• Social trust - between people
• Trust in organizations - between
organizations and those they serve
• Inter- organizational trust - between
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• Intra - organizational trust - within
Some Trust Jargon
Relational trust
Organizational trust
Active trust
Passive trust
Dispositional trust
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The Importance of Trust
“... in low trust groups,
interpersonal relationships
interfere with and distort
perceptions of the problem.
Energy and creativity are diverted
from finding comprehensive,
realistic solutions, and members
use the problem as an instrument
to minimize their vulnerability.
Zand, 1972
R. Wayne Boss, 1977
Harvard Business Review,
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In contrast, in high trust groups
there is less socially generated
uncertainty and problems are
solved more effectively.”
“Under conditions of high trust,
problem solving tends to be
creative and productive. Under
conditions of low trust,
problem solving tends to be
degenerative and ineffective.”
Importance of Trust
Nirmalya Kuma,
Harvard Business Review
November/December 1996
Taylor McConnell in Group
Leadership for Self Realization
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“[Trust] creates a
reservoir of goodwill
that helps preserve the
relationship when, as
will inevitably happen,
one party engages in an
act that its partner
considers destructive.”
“The most productive
people are the most
trusting people. If this
seems to be an
astonishing statement, it
shows how distorted the
concept of trust has
become. Trust is one of
the most essential
qualities of human
relationships. Without it,
all human interaction, all
commerce, all society
would disappear.”
The Importance of Trust
A&R Brown Business Group Inc.
• Productive relationships are based on
trust – often unrecognized and taken
for granted
• It’s a resource that increases with use
• Enables coordination without coercion
• Enables commitments to be undertaken
in situations of high risk
Reasons for Low Trust
Frame of reference - past experiences
•Feelings - low self esteem, vulnerability
•Facts - past results (or perception of
past results)
Perception of attributes of the trustee
•capacity and ability
• intentions (virtue)
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Roots of Low Trust in the
 Lack of inclusion
 Feelings of deprivation and
 Perceptions of vulnerability
 Previous experiences –
yours or other peoples
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 No positive attachment to a
Trust (or not) in Change
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• All change creates distrust. Trust is
often the first casualty of change.
• Effective communication depends on
the capability and willingness of the
• Concepts of fairness and clear process
shapes workable relationships
Fallout From Change
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• Older forms of hierarchy being replaced
• New webs or networks may be based
on business processes
• New accountabilities requiring people to
work in teams
• May require new skill sets, attitudes and
understanding e.g. initiative, relational
competence, time management
Biggest Trust Buster in
Organizational change entails a risk
of generating real or perceived
misalignment between a manager’s
words and deeds
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Behavioural Integrity
perception of
the pattern of
Intent to stay with
the organization
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Willingness to
promote and
Organizational Citizenship
How people behave in the organization – norms.
• Coworker trust and teams
Environment for trust affects motivation in
Group Goals
Individual Goals
• Voluntary Participation – covert/overt
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• Knowledge sharing versus knowledge hoarding
Characteristics of Trust
Faith in life and hope in the goodness of
A “healing” attitude
Able to self disclose
Able to risk being open and vulnerable
Self acceptance
Self awareness - clear values, boundaries
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Architect of Trust
Taking the responsibility to build trust
Authenticity - finding your voice
Emotional Intelligence - tuning into
your own emotions and those of others.
Walking the Talk - actions speak louder
than words - espoused values v. values in
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Climate Building - creating an
environment where people can bring
forth their ideas, values and concerns
Choosing to Trust
Why do I
Why do I
not trust?
What are
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What are my
How do you Trust?
I don’t trust
anyone until
they are
shown to be
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I trust
everyone until
they are shown
NOT to be
What Are Your Trust
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• People, groups and institutions that I
connect with
• Do I trust/not trust them?
• Why do I trust/not trust them?
• What beliefs, assumptions or facts am I
basing this on?
Who Should I Trust?
Does this person share my goals, values
and beliefs?
Does this person have the required
knowledge and ability.?
Will this person honor commitments?
Will this person tell me what I need to
Does this person want me to succeed?
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The Trust Building Equation
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Self Knowledge
Trust Builders
Implementing Change
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• Understand the climate.
• Understand the level of resilience – future
• Are you stepping on values, norms and
• Practice the very best communication –
• Resistance is normal and healthy – listen
• Don’t ignore the signs – it won’t go away
Trust Building Actions
Solve problems through direct communication.Be explicit.
If compromise is productive, do it in communication, not in
your mind alone
Ask non-assumptive questions. Inquiry not advocacy.
Practice deep listening - suspend judgement
Look for the positive - acknowledge the intent first
Validate success or new effort. Share credit generously
When in doubt about taking on a commitment, air your
concerns. Only make promises you can keep.
Schedule regular opportunities for input and feedback
Be timely
Be willing to be wrong
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Hidden Trust Busters
Distance Barriers - telephone, email, fax - lacks the
“high touch” - psychological separation
Physical Barriers - the structure of the meeting
Language Barriers - language used may not be the
first language of both parties.
• North America - Demonstrated performance over time
• China, Latin America, Arab countries - relationships social interaction over time
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Cultural Barriers - trust may mean different things
and be built in different ways e.g.
Common Organizational
Trust Based Practices
Effectiveness and Productivity
Improvement and Change
Culture and Moral
Employee Retention/Turnover
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A western academic & business tradition that
stresses testing one viewpoint against the other to find
the strongest.
We focus almost exclusively on advocacy
critiquing - adversarial thinking - confrontation - presenting our views
and arguing strongly for them - debating forcefully to influence others
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Most managers are trained to be advocates
 A complementary skill to advocacy that seeks to
uncover information about why a particular view is
Asks questions about underlying assumptions, beliefs,
Explores why do you believe this ?
Not a technique to cross examine people or find fault
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Supported by attitude of wanting to understand,
explore, learn, expand
Appreciative Inquiry
Draws on research and studies that show how we get more of
what we focus on and looks for the best of what might be.
Problem Solving
• Assumes situations are
sources of infinite capacity
and imagination
• Good, better, possibilities
• Expanded vision of preferred
future. Creates new energy
• What to grow
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• Assumes situations are
problems to be overcome
• Problem, symptoms, causes,
solutions, action plan,
• Breaks things into pieces
guaranteeing fragmented
responses. Slow, linear
• What to fix.
Appreciative Inquiry
• Group of obstetricians with similar
competence and skills
JAMA research
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• Drs. perceived as poor listeners who
spent less time or were more abrupt in
their interactions had more malpractice
suits that those who were perceived as
attentive, who took time and who
Deep Listening
Level III:Intuitive Listening
at the Essence level
Level II: Focused Listening
at the Feeling level
at the Word level.
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Level I:Internal Listening
Project Management
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• Keep it simple
• Traditional good project practices –
small time frames, lots of wins
• Full participation in the planning
• Clear roles, responsibilities
• Full understanding of what participation
and commitment to plan means
Big Snakes, Little Ladders
• Trust builds incrementally
• Distrust has a catastrophic effect
• 5 times the effort to rebuild
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Why Is It So Hard to Rebuild
Why is it hard for people to do?
Typically involves admissions of
guilt, apology, compensation
and/or punishment - each of which
may have significant costs.
Why is it hard to accept from
someone? Involves repeating a
decision that was proven to be
wrong the first time.
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Importance of Trust within
Marsha Sinetar, Organizational Dynamics, 2001
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“Although an organization obviously cannot
succeed without high levels of trust between
members, most aggressive companies do
little to actively build trust. The typical
corporation spends huge sums of money
training its managers in interpersonal skills,
but pays lip service to the critical issue of
Why Not?
demands on overstretched managers and
executives, skill set that takes us into
intimidating territory, requires significant time
and energy, and demands risk
easier to spend two days learning new project
management software, or two weeks adopting a
new strategic thinking model than to undertake
the complex exploration of building trust and
connection with other human beings.
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Maintaining an Environment of Trust
As society and institutions become more
complex the attribution of blame and
responsibility for failures becomes diffuse. (I
see you, I blame you so I don’t trust you)
Complex organizations make it hard to
deliver consistent service and conduct
Need for “quick trust” - being in a hurry to
complete the process - pace/workloads
Trust in government is a scarce resource
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High Trust Organizations
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• Experience ½ the average turnover of
industry peers
• Higher productivity and profitability
• More qualified candidates for open positions
• Higher levels of customer satisfaction and
• More adaptive organizational structures
• Constructive strategic alliances
• Responsive virtual teams
• Effective crisis management
• Reduced transaction and litigation costs
The People Result
Investment in becoming Architects
of Trust, develops an organization
full of employees that
That's competitive advantage
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• trust management
• willing to speak up and
challenge the process to
improve the way things are,
• bring commitment, innovation
and energy to their work