Episode 6: Understanding and Practicing Trust in the Workplace

Michelle:

Thank you for joining episode 6 of your Reboot Program. We designed these short learning episodes to help frontliners prepare for the day we open our doors to customers again. This episode focuses on Trust, a very complex subject, which is needed at the core of all healthy relationships in our personal and professional lives. 

In this episode, Gabe Baradi will help us understand what Trust means in service and how we can apply more of it today and in the days to come.

Gabe:

The concept of Trust in the workplace seems simple but because it is dependent on our relationships, it is a more complex matter. Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone. We need trust to have a safe and productive workplace. 

It works on three levels: 

First, in a company’s culture, Second, in the relationships between people in a team, and third, in interpersonal relationships between two people. You cannot always control what happens within the company or at the team level,  but you can make the effort to build trust between you and each member of your team. Building trust on a personal level is the key to develop trust within the larger organization.

Why is trust in the workplace important?

Trust is a basic requirement in a company’s culture, without this, there won’t be teamwork and cooperation. When people trust each other, there is more productivity because people get to focus on the work instead of having mental and emotional distractions coming from conflict and tension. It will be a workplace that is free from gossip, intrigues, and power tripping. A work environment where people trust each other is a safe space.

There are organizations where employees will continue to work out of fear, but they will not go beyond to help the team and the company. When someone works out of fear, the focus is on one’s survival in keeping his or her job. It’s a hostile and unsafe place. On the other hand, an organization where trust is part of the culture will have employees who look forward to going to work. These are workers who feel a sense of achievement to be part of a bigger purpose. For employees working at the head office, these two scenarios are easier to understand. But for frontliners who work in stores, who are physically farther from the larger community of employees, it is all the more important that they need to feel trust in the workplace and the strength of the culture of the company. They will feel this through the managers visiting their stores, through the memos and letters they receive from the head office, and they will feel this through the supplies sent to them. This is a challenge for businesses in service who start to grow and expand, what will keep everyone feeling connected and trusted goes back to the culture we have in our company. 

During this pandemic, this is exactly what every organization is being tested on now: how strong are our relationships and how strong is our culture? Are we able to keep each other feeling safe? If you are a company with 1000 employees spread across 100 stores and one head office, because of the quarantine, your company now has 1000 offices. Each employee’s home became an extension of the company. No one is prepared for this situation; we are all doing our best to survive this crisis. What I would like us to focus on is what this experience is teaching us. A company that is able to build trust has a better chance of surviving a crisis because the employees will do their best to help the company survive. People go beyond what is expected of them, so no one gets left behind. There is real solidarity because we are fighting for the same thing – everyone’s survival. 

When the people you work with trust you, they are more willing to collaborate with you and help you out. When your customers trust you, they will value your service more and listen to your suggestions on what product or service to buy. When your leaders trust you, you open yourself to more opportunities to grow professionally. Trust is the real investment that we make in every human interaction we have every single day of our lives.  

As important as trust is in the workplace, it is also very fragile. Most people are not quick to cooperate if their trust is broken. Trust takes a long time to heal when broken, and needs a lot of effort to develop, but grows strong over time with deliberate effort. 

If you are currently feeling down because you feel there is not enough trust within your relationships at work, don’t give up. This experience of the crisis is an opportunity for everyone on the team to start again. Starting again is not just about opening the stores  and going back to the office, it’s deeper than that, it’s starting again right with the people we work with and with the customers who will give us the chance to recover the business by coming to our stores. 

Remember that people learn to trust you based on what you do daily, not always on what you say. Here are some ways that you can build trust at work with your colleagues, customers, and leaders.

  1. Offer your trust first in other people. Taking the first step to developing trust is showing that you can trust others first. This may require you to risk making the first move, but it is one of the best ways to start. People will trust you, if you trust them.
  2. Listen to people actively and sincerely. We talked about active listening in a previous episode. Nothing destroys trust like seeing the other person not pay attention to what a person is saying. When a colleague or customer talks to you, remember to give them your full attention. That’s the simplest way to form a bond.
  3. Treat everyone with respect without bias or prejudice. It is easy for us to judge a person based on our first impressions. But this is also the wrong way to deal with people as our initial perception colors the way we interact with others. Set your prejudices aside and get to know the person more. 
  4. Show care and concern for individuals. We are all going through a crisis right now. When you talk to your colleagues, ask how they and their families are doing. Ask them what you can do to help. When we return to work, your customers will also have their own fears and concerns. Build trust with them by asking how they are and taking the necessary steps to make their experience in your store a safe and positive one.
  5. Be positive in your interactions. There is enough fear and anxiety going around now because of this pandemic. You can help lessen these negative feelings by making sure that you are positive when you talk to others. Having a growth mindset helps with this as you can appreciate the good things around you with gratitude.
  6. Communicate often and professionally. This pandemic has caused a lot of feelings of isolation. During this quarantine, communicate often with your colleagues to find out how they are doing. Once you are back at work, during downtime, engage in casual conversations to build your rapport. Find common interests and topics with your team members or be curious in the other person’s unique interests. Engage your customer often while they are in your store. The more you ask your customer, the more you will learn about what their needs are and the better we can be of service to them.
  7. Learn to praise your colleagues often when they do the right thing. This helps build their confidence that you are noticing their good work. On the other hand, support colleagues even when they make mistakes. Tell them that you are there to offer any help. They will appreciate your positivity, because you did not blame them nor judge them for their mistakes, and they will feel safe around you.
  8. Avoid gossiping and giving the wrong information. Your colleagues will not think well of you if you are the one who spreads rumors or misleading information that will only create more distrust and confusion. It’s always best to go to the source. Ask the right person in your company. Do not share any unverified information. Let’s not add to the fake news. 
  9. Know your job and do it well. During this quarantine, it pays to learn more and upskill yourself to prepare for when we reopen again. Keep up to date with information and trends in your field. Once on the job, learn how to do your job well and do it the best way you can. Your team will know that they can trust you by the actions you take.
  10. Admit when you make mistakes and seek help with what you are struggling with. Instead of covering up your mistakes, acknowledge what you did wrong and ask for assistance. It takes humility to admit one’s mistakes, but we are here to survive together. We must have full transparency if we want to build trust with each other. Your colleagues will appreciate your honesty more than if you tried to cover up for your errors. 

I told you at the start of this episode that “Trust” is a complex matter, and in our work in the service industry, there are no perfect relationships and there are always things that can go wrong. 

What can we do when something goes wrong and we need to rebuild trust again? 

  1. Take ownership of your mistake. It takes humility and a big heart  to do this and apologize. 
  2. Acknowledge what you did or did not do
  3. Show how you will solve the problem and communicate your action plan
  4. Ask for other people’s help if the task is too much for one person
  5. Accept that some of your colleagues may not warm up to you as fast as the others. Just continue working hard and working smart to show your sincerity. 

Rebuilding trust takes a long time and a lot of effort, but it is worth it in the long run. 

See you in the next episode. 

Michelle: 

We would like to end this episode with a few questions to help you practice what Gabe shared with us: 

  • Are you finding it difficult to stay positive during these times?
  • Do you feel that you are part of a team both at home and at work?
  • What could your employer do to make you feel safe to go back to work after the quarantine?

These questions are not easy to answer, nor are they easy to ask. Trust is such a powerful force that keeps people together. We are in the middle of a crisis that continues to affect people in unprecedented ways and in these trying times, we need to hold on and rebuild the relationships that we would like to keep. Trust is the beginning.

If you have questions about today’s episode, we would love to hear from you. Please click the link and share your thoughts or questions with us and we will answer them in the future episodes. Thank you for joining.