Thursday, 30 August 2012

To trust or not to trust

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.” -- Frank Crane.

Trust is a matter of the heart and the mind. It is both an emotional and a rational function. It is how you feel and perceive a person based on their integrity, ethics, their intent, their words and actions, and their capabilities. 

From a personal life point of view, I believe there is a lot to gain by trusting people around you. Trusting that there is someone in your life watching your back gives you huge peace of mind.  

Trust is important in the workplace too. You need to have trust in your manager, your peers and your team. Employees will give their best if they trust their manager. Building trust in your peers is also very important and possibly the most difficult relationship. While you may be competing for the same rewards, it is also important to build that mutual respect. It’s a great work environment when peers have mutual respect and trust each other's capabilities, ethics and intent. 

Most goals and achievements are attainable through a team effort. Managers cannot sign up for goals, especially the stretch goals, if they cannot trust their team. When there is lack of trust between the manager and employees, there is lack of emotional connection and this leads to many more issues – like insecurity, taking credit for others work, trying to get visibility through incorrect ways.

Good managers usually are able to gain the trust of their team.  They stand by their teams during good times and bad times. In typical work environments many times things do not go as planned. The team needs to trust that their manager will understand and not hold it against them.

Good managers also give respect to individuals in their team. They trust the capabilities of their team members and will depend on them. The saying “give respect and then take respect” actually works well at the work place. I have developed a healthy respect for my managers who have respected me for my capabilities. This turns into trust over time. When the manager trusts the team, the team also trusts the manager over time. Clearly, trust is reciprocal.

Good managers are typically secure about their own abilities and capabilities. They are more ready to help build the careers of the individuals on their teams and help them reach their full potential. This helps the team build faith and trust in the manager. When managers are secure about their capabilities, they are also secure in showing their vulnerabilities to their team. One of my senior managers was talking to me about speaking in front of large audience.  While he did speak often to large audience he told me that his stomach always crunches before a large meeting. This put me at ease for my next talk. The fact that this manager could share his vulnerabilities to help me gained my trust in him.

While trust can build a happy life and a good environment at the work place, it can also be very risky and you can get hurt when people you trust deceive you. But being deceived does not mean one can lose faith in people around them. You cannot go on everyday thinking that people around you are out to "get" you and are ready to back stab you.  It is only with the trust of your team that you can plan big and achieve those difficult goals. Someone has to extend the hand first for the handshake -- maybe the manager/leader of the team reaches out and takes the first step towards building trust. While it may seem more emotional than rational to trust people almost blindly, I think you gain a lot and eventually gain the trust of people around you. 

I agree with Frank Crane...  For my own peace of mind, I would like to be an optimist and trust most people around me. Wouldn't you?