The importance of trust in work relationships

Today’s dynamic markets and technologies have called into question the sustainability of competitive advantage. Because managers are always under pressure to improve productivity, they   have had to embrace innovative tools like reengineering, reorganisations, system upgrades etc. There is a lot of talk on breaking functional silos too. But these have improved operations and not necessarily results. Gurus in management have argued that operational effectiveness is necessary but not sufficient for the ultimate success of a business. The answer lies more in choosing unique strategies and valuable positions rooted in systems of activities that are much more difficult to match. Managers are said to have under estimated the actions necessary to transform the way employees work with one another.

Yet, successful companies are built on relationships between employers and employees, staff and customers and internal and external stakeholders. At the foundation of all relationship is TRUST. Why then does trust matter in this business equation? Having a feeling of trust between colleagues help strengthen an organisation. Benefits like reduced turnover, improved moral and decrease in workplace anxiety are often realised. Such factors can positively assist in retention and recruiting efforts.

However, this trust does not always happen organically or spontaneously in organisations. It develops from consistent conscious efforts that show colleagues that as managers you are reliable, cooperative and committed to team success. As managers you need to remain honest with employees at both positive and negative aspect of the business. Employees who feel management   values   them are more likely to instil trust in those leaders. As   part of the on-going trust building process, managers it’s your duty to continually   value input from employees , encouraging them at all level as well as listening with an open mind even if as management you do not ultimately chose to follow a suggestion made by an employee.

Existence of a positive culture is a building block to encouraging creativity. Managers, please  show employees that as leadership you trust their ideas .When making company decisions, always consider benefits for everyone not just your own personal gains while demonstrating openly that as management you are concerned about employees future. Forge collaborative relationship and ensure availability of an enabling environment. Your actions and not just words should help you as managers to build that organisational trust.

A workplace will be productive and ultimately successful if there is genuine trust of one another. In trust building, stakeholders need that confidence  to count on each other. Teamwork begins by building trust.

Experience has shown that in organisations where trust is basically   words only and not backed by  action, it is a challenge managing such an environment, it may actually be impossible. Some of the senior managers here would usurp   employee’s ideas, steal credit from them and talk to staff in a in a derogatory manner. What carries the day in such organisations are problems of mistrust which are gossip, undermining, suspicion, doubt, bullying etc. and staff will ultimately be disengaged or they develop a very confrontational attitude. Senior Management will lose credibility and respect in the eyes of employees. However as leaders we should never create a comfortable clone syndrome where everyone around you has to think like you. It is only through creative abrasion that you can demonstrate your trust for others as a leader.

Trust is also when as a leader you appreciate and embrace diversity in people as well as the support they bring to the team. A key component in trust building is understanding that not every staff member, including yourself has strengths in all aspects of the business. The strategic approach for a leader to rely on the strength of others while himself offers to contribute his own level of expertise builds unshakable trust within the organisation. It therefore ensures a huge platform of knowledge and competences and an intricate network of relationships whose aim is to achieve the organisational goals.

Leadership need to know that it’s them to model trustful behaviour. It’s for leaders to break the functional mind set in organisation where someone is allowed to go about bragging about everything they claim to be doing. We could learn from the words of NBA acclaimed, ‘greatest basketball player of all times,’ Michael Jordan ‘’ Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.’’

In as much as thousands of businesses have reorganised their work to focus on processes that clearly provide value to customers. These efforts have paid off in the form of lower costs, greater customer satisfaction but many others have resulted in disappointments. The answer is because most managers have underestimated the actions necessary to transform the way employees work with one another. Employees want procedures that allow them to better collaborate, grow trust among themselves while cultivating collective responsibility.

Today’s managers need to mould employees who think constantly and creatively about   the needs of the organisation, employees with as much intrinsic motivation and deep organisational stewardship. The foundation of such a strategic imperative is assured reliance on another and that’s TRUST.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 4 772778 or visit our website at