“Compared with people at low trust companies, people at high trust companied report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives and 40% less burnout.
Harvard Business Review Jan 2017
We are all so eager to find some competitive advantage and drive growth, efficiency, productivity and innovation and yet we live in a time when trust in many organisations would appear to be at an all-time low. We live in uncertain times, fast paced change, complex systems all around us and the ever increasing demands on our time. People are all too often in defence mode. When we are in defence mode we do not do our best thinking or demonstrate our best behaviours.
Leaders can make a difference by communicating more effectively. For organisations to build trust leaders need to build trust. Leaders need to make people feel safe to communicate back to leaders to create genuine, open, valuable conversations where leaders can learn from employees and not always top down.
Leaders need to slow down and focus on the impact they have, through every conversation they are having, with individuals and groups of people, in person and in writing. Every conversation is an opportunity to build trust or blow it.
For this to happen leaders need to challenge their own defensiveness. If a leader is in protect- self mode, they are less likely to be open and capable of focusing on what the relationship needs above what they personally need to protect themselves. This is one of the many reasons why leaders benefit from a coach, someone to help them move from “I” focussed behaviour to “We” focussed behaviour.
Trust will emerge when both parties in any conversation, in any relationship are:
T…ransparent and proactively open with information
R…elate to each other’s needs and wants
U…nderstand the impact they are wanting to achieve not just the outcomes
S…peak up about how they feel as well as what they think
T…ake time to connect with the other person’s feelings as well as their words
You can see why leaders need to slow down. It’s no wonder mindfulness has become so popular. I’m not advocating staring into space or gazing at a raisin for hours before you eat it. I am suggesting leaders need to leave space in their packed diaries to plan for conversations and to reflect on the quality of conversations and the impact they have had. I am also suggesting Leaders plan enough time for their meetings to allow for a quality conversation to take place. The sad reality is when we don’t take this simple approach we create more complexity and uncertainty for people, in turn creating more distrust and subsequently creating more challenge and more work than we started with.
I am helping clients apply the practices of Conversational IntelligenceTM. If you think your conversations could be more effective in building trust and achieving more as a result, contact me for a conversation about how I can help you.