Trust As A Lynchpin   1 comment

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I am a member of a group that is struggling with trust issues.  I am not sure what precipitated the breakdown in trust but I definitely can observe the results.  Trust is a something that once it starts to dissolve, it is extremely hard to reform.  Trust is also the lynchpin that can hold a group together and keep it moving in a beneficial direction.  So this group having trust issues has led to a type of domino effect within the group.  Since people do not trust each other, and in some cases, some of the leadership, there are a lot of little fires that burn in various pockets of the group.

I think an important skill for leaders to have is to be able to get beyond the surface and find the real issues.  If a leader just deals with the little fires that seem to burst up in various areas, the leader is going to become exhausted because she/he will just be running from fire to fire.  While the leader is spending all of their time dealing with fires, the group flounders because in most cases there is no one setting direction for the group.  Some of the leaders within the group I mentioned at the start have been wise enough to look deeper than the surface fires and have found the root of most of the problems as being a disintegration of trust within the group.

So now that the problem is identified, the key is to find a solution unless the group itself is going to dissolve.  Identifying a lack of trust is much easier than rebuilding trust.  Here are some approaches that I find help in rebuilding trust:

  1. Take the time to listen – Often we are very good at telling people information but we seldom sit down and listen.  By listening to others, we are given the opportunity to truly hear the concerns that they have and/or the situations that have led them to lose trust.  We are also able to clarify and to correct misconceptions or misinformation.
  2. Communicate effectively and often – It is key that the leadership clearly communicates decisions, actions, goals, and reasoning.  These should be communicated in a variety of ways and should happen more often than we even think the need is there.  If communication does not occur, it can give the perception that something is purposely being hidden.
  3. Encourage questions – Even when we communicate effectively and often, people may still have questions.  If we ignore the questions or give the appearance that questions are a nuisance, then people shut down and often anger builds.  It also again gives the perception that something is being hidden or that there are hidden motives.
  4. Be consistent – One thing that disintegrates trust is when the leadership is not consistent in their behaviors.  People begin to feel they have no way of anticipate what types of responses or what directions may be coming their direction.  When they feel this, they will lose trust in what they are being told.  They will also become frustrated because of the confusion that exists with constant changes.  Sometimes directions need to be changed but if this is the case, communicate the change and the reason for the change.  People can accept change if it is not all the time and if they are given a rationale for the change.

This list is far from being exhaustive.  This work of rebuilding trust is also very difficult and will take time.  However, this is vital to the health of a group.  If there is not trust, then there will be bickering.  If there is not trust, then there will a lost of momentum among the group.  If there is not trust, then there will be anger, resentment, and rash decisions.


One response to “Trust As A Lynchpin

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  1. Pingback: Mark Vermeer – How To Build Trust

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