Leading Change in Communication, Part I: Trust

By Cathy Segarra, Executive Vice President | November 16, 2017
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Proper communication begins with trust. And, in this day and age, without trust, success is only fleeting.

You might be surrounded by people that have the passion, drive, and competency it takes to be successful in your business, but if you and your employees aren't equipped with the right communication skills (those that breed trust), your efforts may be short-lived. Simply put, if employees or clients don't trust you or the values of your organization, the results you seek today might never match your vision of the future.

RelatedThe 3 V's of Modern Workplace Communication

As we've stated in earlier blog posts, excellent communication skills are cultivated much like caring for a plant. They take time, effort, and patience—which is why we're dedicating an entire month to the topic! But leading change in communication begins by first developing trust.

Why the Thrust for Trust?

In an interview with Stanford Business, Joel Peterson, founder of Peterson Partners and JCP Capital, defined trust as, “giving up of control, at some level, to another person.”

From your team's perspective, trust doesn't come prepackaged into your job title. Even though your experience counts for something, it takes positive consistency, communication, and a fair share of compassion to build trust. And in order to be trusted, you must first be willing to trust. By doing so, you'll move closer to achieving your vision of success—through the help and support of a dedicated team.

I believe that trust is more powerful than power itself," Peterson commented, "It supports innovation and flexibility, and it makes life more enjoyable and more productive. People who live in high-trust environments thrive.

Here are a few ways you can develop an environment of trust within your organization:

Know Your Team (and Learn From Them, Too).

There is truth in the following axiom: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." From an earlier blog post, one of the ways trust is established is through empathy. And one of the most natural ways to do this is by sharing. So, share something about yourself when you speak with your employees (and be prepared to actively listen to what they want to share, as well).

Related: Communicating With Care: Why Empathy Is Important

But it's not enough to make time to walk through the office and engage in personal conversations—these need to stretch beyond the bland how-do-you-do's. Trust, in all cases, is earned, so lead your organization into a culture of trust by having the mindset of a student, rather than always having to be the teacher. There are always opportunities to learn in a world of constant change. Be flexible in your concept of what it means to know your team by choosing to learn from both the old and the new.


Be Transparent (and Vulnerable, Too).

We've been led to believe that strength comes from withholding information: from mistakes and personal weaknesses to what we think and how we feel. But one of the strongest ways to build trust comes from being open and honest in all communications (not just professional ones). Transparency not only allows your team to stay in the loop, but it also ensures your team has a clear message of the goings-on around the office. Schedule a monthly town hall, or open forum, where employees can hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

An example of this comes from Forbes where Aaron Levy suggests that:

"Instead of withholding information, allow yourself to be authentic, honest and transparent about your biggest concerns and struggles for the upcoming weeks and months. It will help your people feel more connected to you and more invested in the company."

In short, employees want and need a leader they can trust: someone to connect with and to rely on, someone who inspires them. So, lead by exchange—with communications that develop trust and foster empathy.

RelatedLeading Change in Communication, Part II: Inclusion

Topics: Communication, Leadership, Empathy, Succession Planning, Management Development, Active Listening

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