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Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace

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More than ever, there is a need for trust in the workplace. After all, business is conducted via relationships, and trust is the foundation to effective relationships. Yet, trust means different things to different people and this is a big part of the problem.

Collectively drawing on thirty years of research and experience with organizations around the world, Dennis and Michelle Reina put people on the same page. The Reinas provide a simple and comprehensive approach that works! Their approach outlines a common language to discuss trust constructively, identifies specific behaviors that build and break trust, and it describes steps for rebuilding trust and sustaining it over time, even during periods of change.

Trust takes time to develop; it is easy to lose and hard to regain. It is a fragile yet indispensable element in any relationship. Betrayal, or the loss of trust, is the focus of countless fiscal scandals, all of which ultimately resulted from a lapse in trust. However, it is not just these major lapses of integrity that break trust. Trust is broken in subtle ways every day in every workplace.

As a result, countless numbers of people in the workplace today are in pain, and many organizations are hurting. After years of constant change--downsizing, restructuring, or of mergers and acquisition--trust among people in organization is at an all-time low.

We have all felt the pain of a breach of trust or even a betrayal during the course of our working careers. Unmet expectations, disappointments, broken trust, and betrayals aren't restricted to big events like restructurings and downsizings. They crop up every day on the job. The Reina's show us the shape and form betrayal takes, its impact on relationships and performance, and most importantly what we can do to rebuild trust.

Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace helps us see the natural role trust and betrayal plays in our lives, how we can rebuild trust and transform workplace relationships. It provides new examples, highly practical tips, tools, and exercises to help readers create work environments where trust grows, where people feel good about what they do, where relationships are energized, and productivity and profits accelerate.

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13 Chapters

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Chapter 1: The Need for Trust in the Workplace

ePub

Jamie was the vice president of global leadership development for a Fortune 50 corporation. She was charged with overseeing the implementation of the company’s new performance management system, overhauling their approach to change management, and developing and rolling out a leadership development training program, among a host of other initiatives. This all had to be executed throughout the company, worldwide, in record time to support aggressive strategic deliverables.

Jamie had a 150-person global unit of highly committed, talented people with heart, soul, and deep pride for the work they do. After all, they were the unit that facilitated initiatives throughout the company that made a difference in people’s lives. However, the unit was paying the price of three restructurings in two years, the loss of 35 percent of its people, and significant budget cuts. Roles and responsibilities were unclear, decision-making boundaries were blurred, and expectations were not understood. Anxiety was high. People no longer understood the direction of the unit or the direction of the company; they did not know what the future held for them, and they did not have a place to go to talk about it.

 

Chapter 2: The Trust of Character: Contractual Trust

ePub

“I’m really frustrated! Phil said he was going to get that report to me by 10 A . M ., and here it is 3 P . M . and I still don’t have it! It’s my neck on the chopping block if I don’t get that finished project to the boss by the end of the day!”

Have you ever been disappointed by people because they didn’t do what they said they would, didn’t do what they had promised?

“The boss wants it done yesterday!” Mary said in exasperation. “We’ve got to get this product to market in two weeks, yet there are major problems with it that will take longer to get ironed out.”

Have you ever been frustrated because a leader made an unreasonable request of you, and you were not given an opportunity to negotiate that expectation? Did you end up with no time to do the job right in the first place, having to sacrifice the quality of the project for the sake of expediency? Did the company have to spend five times as much energy and money fixing the mistakes because the project was rushed?

“Sam is always late!” the team leader said in frustration. “He knows our team meetings are at nine o’clock every Wednesday morning, yet he consistently keeps us waiting to get started. Who does he think he is, anyway? Does he think his time is more valuable than ours? That he’s more important than we are?”

 

Chapter 3: The Trust of Disclosure: Communication Trust

ePub

“I’m really disappointed and disturbed!” Laurie stated. “As a supervisor of this unit, I am always looking out for my people and trying to do the right thing for the company. I can’t believe my employees perceived my actions as self-serving!”

Have you ever felt the pain of being misunderstood? Have people misread your intentions as self-serving, yet you were honestly acting in the best interests of the organization? Have you been in situations where people’s negative perceptions were far from the truth, yet they operated on those erroneous assumptions without checking their accuracy?

“All I did was inform the boss about what was happening out in the field—information he needed to know—and he blew up at me!” Bob said in exasperation. “I’m never going to stick my neck out again!”

Have you ever been shot as the messenger communicating bad news, yet you had nothing to do with creating that bad news? Perhaps you were trying to avert major problems, maybe even a disaster for the company, yet your good intentions were neither acknowledged nor appreciated and were in fact punished.

 

Chapter 4: The Trust of Capability: Competence Trust

ePub

“Why doesn’t she just let me do my job!” Joyce said in utter frustration. “It seems like every day, the boss is looking over my shoulder, telling me how to do my job. Why did she hire me in the first place, if she isn’t going to use my expertise? Doesn’t she have anything better to do? I feel so discounted.”

Have you ever felt micromanaged or underutilized because you were not able to use your talents to do your job in the way you know it needs to be done? Your education and years of experience are not valued, but are in fact devalued.

“I can’t believe you promoted Hugh to the team leader position,” Mark said in exasperation to his boss. “He doesn’t know the job, accepts credit for work he didn’t perform, and works half as hard as any other member of the team. I’m really shocked that you promoted someone like that!”

Have you ever felt frustrated because the competence (or lack thereof) of another was inappropriately rewarded, when they were unworthy of the credit or promotion they were given and particularly when other teammates were more capable and deserving?

 

Chapter 5: Our Readiness and Willingness to Trust: Capacity for Trust

ePub

Chandra began to doubt in her ability to keep up with the increased workload and changing demands placed on her. “Can I do this? I’m not sure if I can trust myself to learn these new systems and procedures in time to get the project done. I don’t know anymore.” Later, she reflected on her fears. She reviewed the strengths she knew she would bring to the job. She was able to see that what was most important to the position were the skills she possessed. “I will use this opportunity to build on them.”

“Can I trust them? I don’t know if it is safe to rely on my new teammates to come through for me and get the job done. I took a risk counting on my coworkers in my old job, and those guys didn’t deliver as promised. I lost my credibility and reputation with my clients—I was burned badly! Now I’m a lot less willing to trust my teammates with such an important project.”

Where does our readiness and willingness to trust begin? How do they affect our perceptions and our beliefs? How are they influenced by our experiences, positive and negative?

 

Chapter 6: How we Trust: The Capacity for Trust Attributes

ePub

“No one can do this job as well as I can. If I want it done right, I’ve got to do it myself!”

“Show me,” she said looking for evidence that she could believe her coworker. “I need to see that you can deliver as promised before I’m going to take your word for it and possibly risk my reputation. I have been burned before!”

“Once you make a mistake on an assignment given to you by ‘the boss,’ he never forgets it. He immediately forms opinions and makes judgments about your capability without giving you the benefit of the doubt or taking into consideration the extenuating circumstances you might have been up against.”

“Working with her is like a breath of fresh air. She does not make generalizations about people or place stereotypes on them, unlike others in our unit. She collaborates equally well with those who think and act like she does and with those who are very different. She actually appreciates the differences! She gives people a chance to be seen for who they are and for what they have to offer. Trust in her team is flourishing.”

 

Chapter 7: How Trust is Broken: Betrayal

ePub

“I’m really upset with Sue! She didn’t deliver her part of the project as she promised. She let down not only me but also her other coworkers. There is no longer trust on this team.”

“I don’t understand why John went to Craig to talk about the
concern he has with me. Why didn’t he come to me directly and give me a chance to address it with him? It hurt to hear about this from Craig. Now I wonder who else has John talked to about me. Can I really trust him?”

“I devoted two-and-a-half days to developing our new strategy
with my team. We all agreed to our direction and to the action steps for which each member was responsible. Half the team is actively following through on their deliverables; the other half is questioning the decisions we made, raising points that have already been thoroughly discussed. I am getting worn down by this dynamic of unnecessarily second-guessing and questioning. I don’t feel like I can trust their word.”

“We trusted Bill, and he betrayed us!” Lori said angrily, referring to her boss. “He lied to us. I’ve got a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, the sense of disappointment and anger that comes from being hurt. I don’t like working in an environment where I’m lied to and where there’s betrayal. I spend too much energy watching my back! I don’t know what or who I can believe anymore.”

“I have left three voice mail messages and have sent two emails
requesting the information necessary for this meeting. She promised to get it to me last week. Here I go again, chasing her down.”

 

Chapter 8: How Trust is Rebuilt: The Seven Steps for Healing

ePub

Chest aching, stomach churning, Roberta splashed water on her face as she fought back tears of shock, horror, and deep hurt. She could not believe what she had just heard. She honestly thought she and Carlos were totally aligned. What a way to find out they were not!

The company president had given Roberta the responsibility of overseeing the design and development of a major building complex. Roberta asked Carlos to work with her on developing the proposal outlining the approach to the project. She had tremendous respect for Carlos’s skill and talent, and they had worked well together in the past.

Roberta felt that she and Carlos had developed a solid proposal and looked forward to reviewing it with the president. At the start of the review meeting, she could not believe her ears when the president mentioned that Carlos had stopped into his office that morning—behind Roberta’s back—and had announced that he had major concerns about the proposal and about Roberta’s ability to oversee the project. Roberta was flabbergasted.

 

Chapter 9: How Trust is Sustained: Transformative Trust

ePub

How do individuals and organizations sustain and increase trust over time, even during change, disappointments, and uncertainty? What does it take to develop a good working relationship into a great one? What does it take to transform our relationships and the organizations in which we work?

When we consciously and consistently practice the behaviors that contribute to the three types of transactional trust, and when we practice the Seven Steps for Healing after trust has been broken in our relationships, we create the conditions that cultivate transformative trust. That is, the amount of trust reaches a critical point and increases exponentially. It becomes self-generating and synergistic. Trust is integrated into the way people interact and do business every day. People’s interactions with one another produce more trust than there was originally invested in their relationships. An organization’s ethical actions in dealing with difficult situations earn more trust (and good will) than the leaders could imagine (or than money could buy)!

 

Chapter 10: Rebuilding Trust Within Teams

ePub

Trust or the lack of it affects how people work together. How do leaders rebuild trust within teams, even during times of change? How do we revitalize our relationships within teams when trust has been lost? What does it take to restore broken trust and heal betrayals with our coworkers? How do we restore trust within groups where people are unwilling or afraid to speak up, acknowledge the issues, difficult as they may be, and work toward viable solutions?

Your heart is pounding. Your stomach is in knots. The tension in the room is so thick, you need a chainsaw to cut it. The team must reach resolution on a key initiative. The boss is presenting his views on the topic, and everyone in the room is nodding in agreement. Yet twenty-five minutes ago at the water cooler, these same people were complaining that it was a “stupid idea,” that it would never work. The boss finishes his presentation and asks the group, “So what do you think?” Team members anxiously shift in their seats, look around the room, avoid eye contact with each other. Everyone is quiet. Meanwhile, the voice inside your head is screaming, “Will somebody please say something!” You begin speaking only to clamp shut again, succumbing to the other voice inside your head, which says, “Don’t do it. It’s not safe. What if the boss doesn’t like what you say and blows up again?” A similar message is being played in the heads of every individual around the table. “I’m not going to speak. You do it! I’m not taking any chances.”1

 

Chapter 11: Rebuilding Trust Within Organizations

ePub

“I can’t believe he did this! I am so angry! I just found out that our president, Mr. Smith, cut our benefits package and is now reneging on our 2.5 percent merit increase that he promised months ago. I work hard for this company and was counting on that pay. And I read in today’s news that he is getting a year-end bonus package worth millions—on top of his salary! I think he is personally greedy and disconnected with the majority of employees within this organization.”

Budgets are decreasing, employees’ benefit packages are being cut, and some unscrupulous leaders are getting wealthy while many employees are paying the price. Fortunately, most leaders are conscientious, trying to do the right thing in the face of all odds. How do these leaders rebuild trust within their organizations, given the changing business landscape? What can they do?

It was a Tuesday in November, cold, damp, and overcast, as many are in the Northwest. At the plant, anxiety was high and morale was low. In the lunchroom, people speculated about what was to come next. “Have you heard when the next cut will be? Who do you think will go this time?” A worker from across the table chimed in, “I have given seventeen years of faithful service to this company. From now on, I don’t trust anybody—it’s every man for himself!” Out on the production line, employees were moving the product, but performance was nothing like a year earlier, before the restructuring began. The plant manager peered out of his upper mezzanine office window overlooking the production floor. “Overall labor costs are lower, but production is declining, and morale has hit rock bottom!” he muttered to himself. “What am I going to do?”

 

Chapter 12: Stories from the Field

ePub

“Frank, you’ve got six months to improve these results, or you and your management team can forget your bonus for this year!” Cheryl said, with a little panic audible in her voice. “And I can forget mine too. How did this happen? Your division has the lowest employee satisfaction survey scores in the whole company. That means anywhere in the world!”

“I thought the numbers were going up,” Frank offered defensively. “I don’t know how they went down further.”

“You’re responsible for Learning Services. I don’t have to tell you that your division is responsible for helping our business units and leaders throughout the world carry out their key strategic initiatives. And one of those initiatives is almost always employee satisfaction! And just how do you think we’re going to sell our services to help them, when we can’t even help ourselves? Don’t you think everyone in the company is looking at these numbers? I know I look at everyone else’s. They do, too.”

Frank sat stiffly as he absorbed his boss’s words. He had known all this before he entered the room, but he still did not have an answer. She was right and they both knew it, but she didn’t have an answer either.

 

Trust Building Resources

ePub

Dennis and Michelle Reina have developed researched-based, statistically valid and reliable web-based tools to measure trust and benchmark your trust building progress at the organization, team, individual, leader, customer, and patient levels.

This powerful community building tool creates a 24/7 asynchronous (notat-the-same-time) self-paced or facilitator-led web-based learning environment that supports sustainable trust building that is integrated with business desired outcomes.

Desktop quick reference guides and wall charts of the Trust & Betrayal Model® illustrated throughout this book are available. They are great tools to support discussion and to maintain awareness and practice of trust-building behaviors.

The Learning Guide is loaded with activities to help you practice the behaviors of trust building and put the principles into action. This provides an excellent complement to this book and the model.

The most powerful way to learn about trust is through experience. We have developed trust building action-learning equipment that provides participants with shared experiences of trust that help them put the principles into action. These stimulating experiences create the “safe container” to have trust-related discussions with the people with whom you work. These fun, engaging tools may be used with a group as small as six or with hundreds.


 

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