The search for a definition of the word trust has been ongoing for centuries. Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote about the credibility of a speaker being based on three characteristics:

  • Intelligence or correctness of the speaker’s opinions

  • Character or reliability of the speaker

  • Goodwill of the speaker

Read On To See How Little has Changed
Over 2,000 years!

The accepted definition today, by Dr. Duane Tway, is a "state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something”.

He developed a model that includes three components:

  • The capacity for trusting - means that your “total life experiences have developed your current capacity and willingness to risk placing faith in others”.

  • The perception of competence - is made up of “your perception of your ability and the ability of others with whom you work to perform competently, whatever is needed in your current situation.

  • The perception of intentions - refers to “your perception that the actions, words, direction, mission or decisions by others are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving motives”.

Put less formally, these relationships are predictable, caring and faithful. One of the wonderful things about them is that they bind a team together during good times and bad.

It's Importance
to Women in Management

When it exists in an organization or simply in a relationship, everything else is easier and more comfortably achieved. It forms the foundation for effective communication, employee retention, employee motivation and the contribution of “discretionary energy” – that extra effort your team members voluntarily invest in their work.

Research by Tway and others clearly shows that it is the basis for the environment you want and need to create at work. It necessarily precedes:

  • Feeling able to rely on someone to get a job done without your having to lean over their shoulder
  • Cooperating, leading and experiencing teamwork within your group
  • Taking well-considered risks
  • Experiencing believable business communication

How Can Women in Management
Gauge Their "Trust Environment"?

Answer the following statements on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being completely true):

  1. My actions each day demonstrate that I have faith in my employees.
  2. My employees are comfortable sharing sensitive or private information with me.
  3. I would never betray an employee.
  4. I keep confidences and would never share confidential information inappropriately.
  5. I really do have faith in my employees.

Tally your score. A total of 20-25 indicates that you and your team probably share an atmosphere of trust. A score of 15-19 indicates less abundance. A score of 14 or less probably means a workshop on the subject might be a good idea.

What Builds and What Damages Trust?

In a workplace survey, Dr. Paul Bernthal found that over 1,100 respondents generally trust other people in their organizations. Of the four groups rated in the survey (peers, leaders, other teams and senior management), respondents rated their own leaders most favorably and senior management the least favorably. Following are the top five trust-builders and -busters:

The top five builders are:

  1. Communication that is open, honest and without any distortion of information
  2. Demonstration of confidence in team members’ abilities, making them feel they are a skilled, competent employees
  3. Keeping promises and commitments
  4. Listening to and valuing what an individual says, whether or not you as their leader, agrees
  5. Cooperating with individuals and looking for ways to help each other

The top five busters are:

  1. A greater concern for your welfare than anything else
  2. Sending mixed messages so an employee doesn’t know where he or she stands
  3. Avoiding responsibility for your own actions, passing the buck or dropping the ball
  4. Jumping to conclusions without first checking the facts
  5. Making excuses or blaming others when something doesn’t work out right

The Bottom Line
When You Are a Woman in Management

It is probably the single most important asset you’ll take into your new job! Take the “Environment” test yourself first. Then have your team members take it to be sure you share the same views on your environment. Having them take the test will demonstrate to them how important trust is to you – but only if you take action on any negatives that you become aware of in the process. Based on Bernthal’s survey, you already have a head start on this relationship with your team. But, you can never have too much!

As Stephen Covey (author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People) says, “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people”.