The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 18, 2014

Career Coach: How to build trust at work


— Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another.

— Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback.

— Hesitate to offer help outside their own areas of responsibility.

— Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them.

— Fail to recognize and tap into one another's skills and experiences.

— Waste time and energy managing their behaviors for effect.

— Hold grudges.

— Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together.

Companies can build workplace trust, but it won't happen quickly. It will take time for employees to share their experiences, experience credibility from follow-through and a learned appreciation for the contributions of all members.

The leader has to serve as a role model. He or she has to be seen as credible (i.e., doing what he/she says they will do, keeping commitments, keeping confidential information private and not talking badly about employees in front of others).

Get members to learn about each other as people. One exercise that Lencioni suggests is the Personal Histories Exercise. Get co-workers to share something about themselves (hobbies, childhood, family situation, hometown, etc.). The key is to get them to learn something personal about each other so that they can relate to each other as human beings. This can promote greater empathy and understanding .

Keep staff members informed. Transparency in communication is critical for employees to feel a sense of trust in the organization. So, leaders have to be accessible. During tough times, they have to recognize that people have concerns and help to address those.

Organize team-building activities. It is amazing how an exercise can really get colleagues to learn to see the value each brings to the workplace. One program that I have used with top management teams has used both physical and mental challenges for teammates. I really like doing this since it can highlight unique contributions individuals can make since a person who may not be good at physical challenges can still show contributions by their strength in word games, brain puzzles or other mental activities.

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