If you are like most people, you think of trust as this fuzzy, feel-good thing. "I like somebody, therefore, I trust them," is how Joel Peterson, author of The Ten Laws of Trust, puts it. In reality, trust is the operating system upon which relationships function. In the absence of trust, there is no workability.
Think about a relationship in your life, either at work or in your personal life, that is strained. Is that relationship a trusting one? Is it workable? Probably not, right?
Trust is a function of integrity. If you can count on someone, meaning there's no gap between what they say and what they do, which is what integrity is, ultimately, they are someone you trust. If you can't count on someone because what they say isn't a match or is inconsistent with what they do, they cannot be trusted.
Trust is what allows relationships to work. Here I want to focus on what you can do to restore trust after it's broken. This is crucial, because in the absence of trust, there will be a decline in performance within your team and, ultimately, your company. Here's how to fix it.
Own up to your shortcomings
While you might be under the impression that being a few hours or days late to turn in that project you promised isn't that big of a deal, it creates a gap between what you said and what you did, thus slowly but surely eroding the trust between you and the colleagues, and tarnishing your reputation.
It isn't easy to admit when you didn't do what you said. Often, we avoid having to face our shortcomings, instead hoping they'll just go away on their own, or better, that no one will even notice when we've slipped. Usually, this isn't the case. Someone always notices when you fall short on what you said you were going to do, and the best way to fix this is to admit to it and vow to do better next time.
Recommit to it
Say you promised to chat with an employee at the end of the quarter to revisit their commission structure, but here we are, midmonth into the next quarter and you haven't scheduled that meeting. It may not be a big thing to you, but it's likely a big thing to your teammate.
Not only that, but you are also sending a message that it's OK to not do what you say. Once you notice you've slipped up, acknowledge it and recommit, but, most important, to avoid making the same mistake again, schedule everything in your calendar so you are not running on memory.
Your actions will go a long way in setting the kind of high-performance culture you might be out to activate within your company or team. Once you understand for yourself that a high-performance team and culture is, in part, a function of the level of integrity, as Michael Jensen argues, the more ahead of the curve you will be.
Talk is not cheap
The degree to which you respect the words that come out of your mouth is the degree to which you have integrity. Talk is not cheap. In fact, it's what builds your reputation, and if you are loose with your words, people will take notice.
To do what we say we are going to, we first have to be very aware of what we say. If you're the type of person who moves fast and seeks to please people in the moment without really considering what you are committing to, it may be time for a change.
Instead of shooting off the first thing that comes to mind, make a commitment to slow down and really think about the things you say before you say them. Are you agreeing to spend time with an old friend because it feels like the right thing to do? Are you saying you'll take the trash out later tonight even though you know you're going straight to bed?
Whether something big or small, failing to live up to what you say you are going to do is a signal that you can't be trusted, and in business (as well as personally), this is the absolute last spot you hope to find yourself in.
Integrity is key if you're hoping for success in the long run. Promoting a culture of integrity at your workplace, and doing everything in your power to make it stick, will go a long way in establishing a team dynamic that operates smoothly and in a manner in which real trust is evident.