Monthly Archives: May 2013

Busting trust

Trust is tricky. It takes two to have a trusting relationship yet all we can do is focus on our own behaviors. Our success at building trust is determined by the perceptions of those we lead and those we work with. At times it can feel like it is out of our own control since we never know for sure which specific comment or behavior is going to be the one that makes a difference to someone on our team. Think of your typical day as a leader. How many potential moments do you have to make an impression on someone on your team, a colleague or any co-worker? For most leaders it is hard to even count them all!


That is our reality as leaders and any one of those moments can turn into a “gotcha’” event that breaks down trust with someone. And most often we are completely unaware of it at the time. It can be one of our leadership Blind spots (post on 1/9/13). Today I want to share the ideas from a card game called Trust Busters that I use with leaders and with teams that can help leaders avoid “inadvertently” busting trust during our busy and chaotic days. It opens up blind spots and allows your team members to safely point out “gotcha’” behaviors before they happen. And it can be fun!

The cards list 25 common behaviors that can break down trust, such as:

  • Not following through on agreements
  • “Re-deciding” decisions
  • Inconsistent messages
  • Seeking input and not using it
  • Not fixing known problems
  • Tolerance of poor performers
  • Not understanding other’s reality

Either using the card deck, or a list of your own, leaders ask their team members to sort the cards into two piles.

1.      Serious violations of trust

2.      Behaviors that over time can erode trust

Our leadership blind spots are usually found in the second set of behaviors, the smaller actions that are perceived differently by our people than what we intended. I have discovered that my confident communication style (in my mind) actually is perceived by some of my colleagues as not understanding their reality and that it can erode their trust in me. Having the courage to ask your people to share examples of a time you have “played” one of those cards from the second pile will open your eyes and help you avoid inadvertently busting trust in the future.

Todd Thorsgaard

Trust: either you have it or you don’t?

When I work with leaders on the topic of trust, I sometimes hear people say, “either you have it, or you don’t.” This is especially true when a leader refers to a workplace relationship where there is low trust. In those cases, leaders report that it seems nearly impossible to communicate effectively or get anything accomplished. Certainly, as Dee Anne suggested in her blog last week, building trust takes time and attention. What I’ve found particularly useful in the myriad of resources from Steven M.R. Covey’s groundbreaking book, The Speed of Trust to the recent work of Ken Blanchard, is that they provide roadmaps for leaders to become skilled at building trust. I’ve become convinced that each of us can get better at building trust.

Recently, a colleague of mine recommended another book, The Trust Edge by David Horsager. He said that it decoded specific actions he needed to take to build trust with his employees, peers, and boss. The book builds upon concepts first introduced by Covey. Horsager affirms through various case studies that when trust goes up in an organization, there is an increase in productivity, morale, retention, innovation, loyalty, and revenue and a corresponding decrease in costs, problems, attrition, skepticism, and stress.

trust edge

What I find helpful in The Trust Edge is that Horsager (a Minnesota native), identifies 8 pillars of trust and uses a workbook-like approach to help leaders reflect on how they build skills in each of the pillars. Here is a sneak peek:

Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous

Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves

Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy

Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable

Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity

Connection: People want to follow, buy from and be around friends

Contribution: People immediately respond to results

Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently

I hope this list has piqued your curiosity. If so, I’d encourage you to go to your local bookstore or library to find a copy and keep reading.

Anita Rios

Building and sustaining trust

Trust is an essential ingredient in successful workplaces.  When I’m working with a team that has high mutual trust we work more smoothly, more quickly, and toward better results.  Equally important, when things don’t go as hoped, a high-trust team is more easily able to learn from the experience and move forward.

One of the challenges for leaders is how to build and sustain trust.  As new leaders quickly discover, it isn’t something that can be accomplished and marked off the “to do” list.  It takes a longer time than you might think to build trust, a shorter time than you might wish to destroy trust, and a high level of attention to maintaining it.

A recent article in Fast Company gave three excellent suggestions for building and maintaining trust.

Involve people in decisions that directly affect them.

  • When people are involved they are more likely to support the decision, even if it wasn’t their preferred choice.
  • If you’ve already made the decision, and you’re not open to changing your mind, don’t go through the motions of bringing people into the process; they’ll just feel conned.
  • Treating people as capable adults shows you trust them to be part of good decisions. They’ll trust you more in return.

Be transparent and consistent in your actions.

  • Understanding how a decision was made, and the thought process behind that decision, can have a huge impact on how people feel about the decision.
  • For example, in one study, employees who understood how their performance bonus was determined were more satisfied than employees who received more money, but didn’t know how the bonus had been determined.

Pay attention to relationships.

  • People join companies but leave managers.
  • If people trust you to understand what matters to them, it makes a huge difference in their engagement.

Think back on leaders who have built a high level of trust in groups you’ve worked with?  Did they demonstrate these three behaviors?  How?

Dee Anne Bonebright

Source:  Atkins, A. (August 7, 2012).  How Leaders Build Trust.  Fast Company.

All about trust

As a Minnesota native, I trust that summer will eventually arrive, even though my walk to the bus looked like this last week. Winter sidewalk

This trust keeps me motivated even when my day-to-day reality suggests the snow will never disappear. I am able to make plans for my garden, prepare my bike for outdoor riding and confidently get my summer clothes out of storage because I am confident that warm weather will arrive.As leaders, we need our employees to count on us and have confidence in us so that they can make plans and take action because of their trust in us and the organization.  Building trust as a leader is the competency we will be focusing on the month of May.

We define Building Trust as:

Builds trust with others by demonstrating respect, valuing people, and creating transparency. Keeps commitments. Extends trust to others. Inspires confidence both in word and deed. Actively works to restore trust when necessary. Keeps confidences when appropriate.

Over the next month we are excited to share with you both time-tested ideas and new work in the area of leadership and trust. We also look forward to hearing your stories, practical tips and success stories on building, maintaining and repairing trust.

By the way, this is what my front yard looked like 4 days after the snow! My trust was rewarded.

spring flowers

Todd Thorsgaard