Distrust has seeped into our lives at a cultural level. For evidence, simply turn on the news. You’ll find story after story about government misconduct, new things we need to be afraid of, and people who are out to get us. There’s a general sense in every aspect of life from child rearing to dating to workplace culture that no one can ever really be trusted.
And that’s a serious problem. Humans are, after all, social animals. We rely on one another for comfort, security, entertainment, and affection. People who live in community with one another are healthier and have significantly longer life expectancies.
The benefits of trust extend to the workplace, as well. Dr. John F. Helliwell has studied trust in the workplace and found that, “Just moving up one point on a ten-point scale of trust in your management has the life satisfaction equivalence of something like a one-third increase in income.” (Read more from Dr. Helliwell at Gallup.) We may not even realize how much we value trust in the people that we work with, but we can all feel the effects when trust doesn’t exist.
A workplace that lacks trust in the leadership is, in short, dysfunctional. Here are some of the top indicators that your workplace has a trust issue:
- Negative Workplace Conversations – If interactions between employees at your company are marked by pessimism or furtiveness, that’s a bad sign. Negativity, bad blood, and an overly competitive environment can all be indicators that employees don’t feel secure in their positions or around their co-workers.
- High Turnover Rates – If you’re not sure why employees keep leaving your business for your competitors, look to your workplace culture. The Saratoga Institute found that 75-80% of people leave jobs because of relationship issues, either with co-workers or the people they report to.
- Lying and Rumor Spreading – How much of your workplace info gets spread via the rumor mill? When people don’t feel comfortable being honest with each other and their superiors, rumors abound. Rumors are an opportunity to gain information without exposing yourself. Likewise, if you catch your employees in lies from time to time, you need to ask why they don’t feel safe telling you the truth.
Fortunately, if your office suffers from a lack of trust, there are steps you can take to improve the situation. The process starts with assessing your personal level of conversational intelligence – your ability to communicate clearly and directly with people and understand their responses to you. Once you learn the skills of conversational intelligence, you can pass those skills along to the organization. More on that in our next blog…