Agonizing, painful, draining, scary, oppressive, need to document everything, requires excessive preparation, complex, confusing, misleading, insincere, duplicitous and just plain – no fun! Sound familiar?
Those are the words I hear when I ask leaders, “what is it like to work with someone who doesn’t trust you or someone that you don’t trust?”
Next everyone laments how it feels impossible to restore or to regain trust after it is lost. I have to admit I feel the same way. When something goes wrong it just feels like so much work to rebuild the relationship and I end up focusing on the daunting task ahead, instead of taking action.
As challenging as it is, leaders are responsible for not just building trust but also restoring trust when it is missing. Henna Inam, Executive Coach and contributor to Forbes magazine describes a three step approach for leaders to rebuild trust.
Manage yourself – Often the hardest step but a required one. We must shift from placing blame to taking action. Inman recommends:
- take personal accountability for restoring the relationship; don’t wait for it to fix itself
- reframe your view of the other person
- accept their perspective as legitimate – even if it is different from yours
Initiate a conversation, even knowing it will be uncomfortable – restoring trust will only happen with direct communication. Be sure to:
- state the reality that there is an issue, in a non-threatening or defensive manner
- clearly verbalize your interest in rebuilding the relationship and ask for their help
- acknowledge your role in the broken trust
- listen with empathy and avoid defending your actions
- use dialogue to get their ideas and then commitment to action to restore trust
- agree to give each other feedback on what is working and what isn’t as you take action to restore trust
Follow through with action – restoring trust takes time and requires persistent action.
- continue to follow through on your commitments, even when the other person isn’t
- be prepared for skepticism at first
- look for small victories
Often you will need to go back to step one but with commitment and focus you can take the steps that will improve trust in many situations. Good luck!