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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Trust and betrayal in the workplace by Dennis and Michelle Reina

I finished this book in July 2023. I recommend this book 8/10.

A good book on the essence of leadership—The power of building trust.

Get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • P10. The four C’s of trust:

    • Capacity for trust: Our readiness to trust

    • Contractual trust: Trust of character

    • Communication trust: trust of disclosure

    • Competence trust: Trust of capability

  • P17. In organizations, since our capacity for trust influences our beliefs, people “Bring themselves to work” from a continuum of perspectives. At one end of the continuum is entitlement; at the other, contribution. Those who come from entitlement look at the world through the lens of acridity. These are the people who feel that the company and the world owe them a living. In relationships at work, they wait for something good to happen before they are willing to acknowledge another person or before they are willing to give trust. But there are also people in organizations who come from a place of contribution. They look at the world through the lens of abundance. They are willing to give others first while not worrying about what they are getting in return. Because of their positive outlook, sense of appreciation, and trust in others, they attract more things to appreciate and trust in their relationships. These folks are like gardeners, cultivating their relationships and nurturing them with trust. Highly successful leaders are like Gardners, cultivating relationships with employees and nurturing them with trust. As leaders develop trusting relationships, they are better able to coach employees and move them along the continuum from entitlement toward contribution.

  • P24. It is critical that senior leaders understand the organizational implications of the concrete—abstract scale. Many frontline employees operate at the concrete capacity for the trust side of the scale (for example, hands-on production workers paid to produce concrete products). Many senior managers operate at the abstract capacity for the trust side of the scale (for example, to create the vision and set the direction of the organization.) One of the reasons for the breakdown in communication and growing distrust between senior management and frontline employees is that there is a “disconnect”; they are each speaking in a different language. Senior managers may “walk their talk” and live the corporate values (abstract criteria), but frontline employees want concrete evidence that they can trust senior management. “Show us the benefit package that was taken away!” “What happened to our 401 (k) plan?” (Concrete criteria). To begin to build trust with employees in low-trust situations, it is important that leaders think about what the other group’s perspective is, use language that others can understand, and give them tangible evidence that the leaders keep their word and live by their principles.

  • P38. Every day on the job, leaders betray employees unintentionally. If you give an employee the responsibility bit, not the authority, trust, and support needed to do a project, you have destroyed the full potential of that employee’s contribution to the company. A major betrayal, intentional or not, is shocking and devastating. It grabs us when we least expect it. What we thought was dependable is not dependable; what we thought was permanent is not permanent. Our world is turned upside down, and we are tossed into emotional chaos. We wonder, “Where can I place my trust now?” “Whom can I trust?”

  • P70. Managing relationships up, down, and across the organization is important to the success of any leader. When expectations are worked out specifically and in detail, contractual trust begins to develop. However, during times of change, expectations become increasingly difficult to manage. They can become vague, and the level of contractual trust may begin to decline. Relationships may be jeopardized when expectations are not clear. To help gain clarity around expectations, leaders will benefit by reflecting on the implicit contracts they have with the people with whom they work. Leaders may consider the degree to which the contracts are understood and mutually beneficial. They may need to clarify implicit expectations and make them explicit. By large, people want to meet the expectations others have of them or would like the opportunity to negotiate if they feel the expectations are unreasonable. People want to be successful and want the organization they work for to thrive. People seek work environments where their expectations are understood. People look to leaders and expect leaders to take the time to build relationships and create environments where expectations are shared, discussed, and understood.

  • P78. Contractual trust.

    • Manage expectations.

    • Establish boundaries.

    • Delegate appropriately.

    • Encourage mutually serving intentions.

    • Honor agreements.

    • Be consistent.

  • P81. Trust influences communication, and communication influences trust. The two are very closely related. When leaders readily and consistently share information and involve employees in the running of the business, it not only affects the trust between them but also affects productivity and profitability. People have to know what is happening if they are to work efficiently and effectively and be enthusiastic about what they are doing. Experience shows that a high level of trust can be established if managers let employees know what is influencing the business. We encourage leaders to follow a general rule: “If I am not sure whether I should or should not communicate, I should.”

  • P86. “Leadership means finding a way to be honest at all costs. That is the best way to lead. People want the truth! A good leader finds a way to deliver the hard messages.” When people do not tell the truth, they actually betray themselves. Their sense of trust in themselves is compromised.

  • P88. Do we readily admit mistakes? Do we take responsibility for our mistakes? How leaders deal with mistakes made by themselves or others sets the tone for the rest of the organizations and is a key factor in creating communication trust. It does not serve the relationships within an organization to “stonewall” or cover up. When a leader has made a mistake, it really is in his or her own best interest to own up to it. Just as leaders must admit their mistakes, employees must take responsibility for their errors as well. It is important that people who repeatedly make mistakes not hide behind their excuses and abuse your good nature and willingness to forgive.

  • P90. Providing constructive feedback sends a message that we are invested in the relationship and that we trust that the individual will pay attention to what we have to say. Sharing information and feelings about another’s behavior and performance is critical to maintaining effective working relationships, especially if the other individual’s behavior is having a negative effect on performance. To give feedback effectively, leaders need to be willing to receive it in return—non-defensively. When receiving feedback, we need to listen to the intent of what people are saying rather than thinking of a comeback or response. Leaders need to make an effort to avoid becoming defensive and show genuine interest in what they are hearing.

  • P93. Leaders need to counter unfair criticism head-on. Regarding gossiping and backbiting, leaders need to make it explicitly clear that engaging in such behavior is inappropriate, unprofessional, and intolerable in the workplace. Speaking out against gossip will earn you the respect and trust of your employees. When we share information, tell the truth, admit mistakes, use feedback constructively, maintain confidentiality, and speak with good purpose, we build communication trust. Communication trust helps us create and maintain supportive working relationships.

  • P106. Involve others and seek their input (Decentralize command with business groups.)

  • P118. The important thing is to create alignment so that team members can rally behind the objectives and trust that all members are working toward the same goals. The following practices work well. Quarterly planning sessions help members get a clear idea of the direction in which they need to head. Daily ten-minute stand-up meetings allow people to manage their day-to-day work, announce intentions, identify needs, and make requests of each other. Monthly progress reviews allow people to take stock of their accomplishments and challenges to be overcome. These can be done in person with teams at the same site or online with virtual or geographically dispersed teams.

  • P139. Helping people heal from betrayal.

    • Observe and acknowledge what has happened.

    • Allow employees’ feelings to surface.

    • Give employees support.

    • Reframe the experience into a larger context.

    • Take responsibility for your role in the process.

    • Forgive and shift from blaming to focusing on what can be controlled.

    • Let go and move on.

  • P147. As for leadership.

    • Allocate an uninterrupted block of time to explore the following questions as they relate to your organization.

      • What does a culture of trust look like within our organization?

      • What and where are our critical trust-related issues?

      • What are the biggest barriers to cultivating trust in our organization?

      • What policies and procedures are detrimental to trust between departments and across the organization?

      • What policies and procedures do we need to rethink, rework, or rewrite?

      • What does each manager need in his or her respective division to support the people in the field serving customers?

      • What are the three top needs in each department? What can the members of the management team collectively do to support each other in meeting those needs?

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