I don’t know if the element of trust was ever a permanent resident in the workplace, but it isn’t absent in all of them. Trust isn’t a variable that managers/executives are measured so perhaps that makes it an uncommon commodity. In some sense, maybe that’s good because trust can be volatile. The fact is however, those managers and executives can readily influence the trust level among their employees with their words and actions. Let me offer an example, if executives state they want to know employee’s honest opinions, but fall into denial if the feedback is critical, what happens to the sense of trust?
As much as it is human to err, it is also human to deny mistakes. The difficulty of admitting to mistakes or problems can stifle the development of trust, while a fear of rejection and failure can make it tough for many executives to change. The pattern will repeat itself when subsequent occasions arise that tap into that same nerve. The Arbinger Institute, author of “Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box” offer up the theory of that in time it becomes a means of preserving ego to develop the default tendency to justify the denial by casting judgment against the employee providing the critical remark. The more the denial happens, the more it becomes believable that the mindset is justifiable.
Being in the “box” is a hard habit to break until the executive can see outside of the patterns of thought. No question, trust is difficult and it requires being honest with oneself and others. Both the executive and employee must be committed to help each other in trust situations. When tempers the trust compact is the reality that nothing is forever, People can and do change, companies change as well. Acknowledging that we err and that we are all a work in progress is a giant step in the right direction.