The High Court ruled last week that there is no implied term of mutual trust and confidence in Australian employment contracts.
What is trust?
Trust is the basic social glue.
It influences good decision making.
Yet just like good decision making, no-one teaches the theory and practice of Trust.
It's seen as an emotional, moral quality.
Is 'Trust' in MBA courses? Is it in Staff Induction days? Are there Trust policies?
Time to remedy our lack of knowledge about Trust.
Reinhard K. Sprenger wrote 'Trust: The Best Way to Manage.' Here are the highlights to help begin incorporating an understanding of the influence Trust has in good decision making.
It is no longer possible for trust to develop out of familiarity.
Trust increases the scope for nonconformity (the lateral thinking so highly regarded everywhere), individuality and originality. People can be who they are. Without trust, motivation doesn't last.
Many studies have attempted to establish a correlation between internal company factors and corporate results. But only one variable has been substantiated as having a significant correlation: the nature of staff members' relationships with immediate managers. If the relationship is good, productivity increases; if it is bad, it declines. Within a relationship that someone experiences as positive, the most important feature is trust.
it has often been said that trust is the basis for management. Allowing oneself to be managed means trusting someone.
Modern trust is based on people's having chosen to work together and trust each other. This trust is reflective and calculating. This trust is neither blind nor naïve. This trust is a decision.
'The best managers trust their people from the first day. On the basis of an inner conviction they trust them to do the best and to deliver good work. Only the cynical managers think staff have to trust first.'
- Carolyn Dyer, Gallup Senior Analyst
Trust is a potential solution for problems involving risk. Accordingly, trust presupposes a risk situation. Risk comes first. Then comes trust (or mistrust).
I am prepared to relinquish control of another person because I expect them to be competent, and to act with integrity and goodwill.
It is only sensible that trust is always limited.
The reason that we often undervalue trust is that we aren't aware of it until it has been broken. Then we are usually astonished, sometimes even shocked.
Either/or: this is one of the greatest obstacles on the path to recognising trust as the elixir of life in the business world. What's missing is a sensible intermediate position. But if I want to talk about trust, build trust and make a decision about trust, I have to be aware of it. Only then does it become an option I can choose.
Only conscious trust is real trust: the conviction that the other person won't betray me, although I know they could. I shall leave it to you to judge whether "hope" or" confidence" might be better terms for this. What's important to me is that the diminution of trust is a contribution for its very existence.
Everything we value as trust can be obtained only within a framework of knowledge and in conditions of relative security. Because knowledge is limited and total security isn't possible, we must complement both with trust. Knowledge and security don't necessarily amount to mistrust; they are the basis to which trust can relate. This means that knowledge is the primary idea that must be in place before we can speak about trust.
What people tend to forget is that learning can't take place if the outcome isn't monitored.
Control doesn't necessarily undermine trust. Control can actually safeguard trust. The higher the degree of trust, the more important the safeguarding function of control. It then acquires an informative, supporting and enhancing character. But if on the other hand trust is displaced beyond a certain threshold, the experience becomes one of mistrust. The higher the degree of mistrust, the more limiting control becomes, thereby diminishing trust still further.
The optimum ratio between trust and control is not constant, but will fluctuate according to the situation and the occasion.
Contracts can provide a platform on which a trusting collaboration can be built. Take an employment contract. If it regulates the essentials and confines itself to the minimum, it will never see the light of day again once an employee has started work. But without it, many would never start at all. It represents a minimum guarantee for mutually acceptable behaviour.
Trust isn't possible without control, nor control without trust. It is the proportion that is important.
In its extreme form, trust paradoxically destroys the basis for its own future. A certain measure of selective mistrust is required in order to give worth to trust and to ensure its continued existence.
Trust is like an advance: it can be cashed in later. Trust is always on trial.
Trust still needs to be justified by results now and again if it is to be continually renewed. That's what sets it apart from the rule of obedience or loyalty to the alliance that still dominates many businesses today. If your interests are upheld by the other person's actions in the expected matter your trust remains intact.
Trust brings risk with it, but so does mistrust. There is no business without risk.
When we are in a position to evaluate the relative trustworthiness of someone, we are dealing with a proportion. And it is in this proportion that we deed to make a decision on.
Trust must remain constructive; it mustn't make you blind and mustn't ever be absolute. The same goes for mistrust.
Modern trust therefore involves a decision in favour of a combination of trust and mistrust, of control and the relinquishing of control.
Trust is often weighty, moralistic, admonishing. The question 'Don't you trust me?' makes you eager to say you do. Trust is often viewed as an unalloyed substance like honey, spreading well-being when ever it flows. But this picture is skewed. Trust isn't intrinsically good.
In some cases, defensive managers misuse trust as a label. They don't pay attention, don't act, don't manage, and excuse their passivity by claiming trust in their employees. But trust can never mean retreat and passivity.
Trust is neither good nor bad. There is no need to evaluate it at all. It can be explained more or less fully as a product of a rational collaboration with no moral component.
Someone who says 'trust me' is effectively declaring trust to be a debt the other person owes them. The subtext is: 'if you don't trust me, there's something wrong with you'. In fact when people are told 'trust me' they often feel ashamed or guilty if they don't manage to trust.
A manager needs to remain aware of his role in the company and position in the hierarchy at all times – and that rules out genuineness. This applies especially critical situations that staff experience as threatening.
I want to be quite clear about the fact that my policy is to use trust to influence behaviour. This would only represent a moral problem if I were to conceal a manipulative intention.
A trusting relationship is characterised by the expectation that the dependency involved in the relationship will not be exploited by one of the parties.
It can be highly advantageous for people to confirm trust if they value the space to be themselves, manage themselves and be respected. And the benefits are great too if they coincide with the maximum benefit for the manager: if both are pursuing interests in the same direction.
If you nevertheless trust: you will consciously choose uncertainty, loss of control and the possibility of disappointment. You give the employee a task without knowing whether he will prove worthy of your trust; you don't know whether he will use his freedom of action to your detriment. So placing trust initially involves risk for you as a manager. This risky advance investment can't be justified in an absolute sense, but it is extremely reasonable, as we shall see.
Vulnerability starts trust.
Active trust is accepted vulnerability.
Trust brings commitment. It creates obligation. It binds. It unleashes a deep current from which we can barely escape. And the greater the risky advance investment, the greater the binding effect.
The important thing is that giving trust is a gift that creates obligations is precisely because it is difficult or impossible to demand.
It has now become clear that two things that appeared mutually exclusive actually belong together: trust and control. Trust controls the behaviour of another person. It is wrong to play trust and control off against each other. The opposite applies: trust is control.
If you as a manager place your fate in the hands of your staff, if you relinquish your power and ability to act arbitrarily, if you allow staff to take responsibility for things that will affect your success, then the binding effect of trust can develop. Are your staff aware that you will be damaged if they don't do the job? It isn't enough to say 'I need your contribution'; your staff must be aware that you have a problem if they don't do their job. If a member of staff is justified in feeling that their contribution hardly counts, has little effect and isn't indispensable, no trust can develop.
Trust people to have their own quality standards for themselves and their work. Get rid of time monitoring systems.
Take customer orientation seriously. Support unorthodox decisions made by the staff.
Check first, then trust.
Put yourself to the test with your staff: give them the opportunity to vote you out. This is the highest level of vulnerability possible at work. It is the ultimate level of trust. Trust becomes possible when you make yourself dependent on the agreement and performance of your staff.
You get the trust mechanism started when you yourself give trust first by allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This is the most important condition. You are vulnerable when an abuse of trust by the other person would be hugely detrimental to you.
When human beings are treated as responsible people, they behave as such. We know from research that we are strongly influenced by other people's opinion of us. The other person is, or can become, a person of integrity if we give them the opportunity to confirm trust.
If you distrust, you never have the chance to encounter a trustworthy person.
The message 'I trust you' is more effective in bringing about a desired outcome than 'trust me' is. It invests something before it expects anything; it gives first and then receives.
Trust is neither a prerequisite nor a result. It is both. It oscillates between prerequisite and confirmation. Trust runs in a circular pattern. So does mistrust.
Is sad mentality of caution: it is in hierarchies where the emphasis has shifted dramatically from responsibility for tasks to responsibility in terms of accountability that there is constant dissatisfaction with conditions in the company. Everywhere, the question 'Where were you when that happened?' creates the mixture of uncertainty and fear that turns trust into a constraint. Trust is sacrificed when people decide to take a safety measure to deal with a risk that may actually have been small.
When you withdraw trust from an employee, they don't have to balance the relationship account by contributing something in return. They no longer experience an inner pressure pushing them to restore the balance. They no longer have a bad conscience about cheating on you because you don't consider them trustworthy anyway.
Trust isn't a moral action. It doesn't necessarily consist in believing in the other person's good intentions. It can be assigned to the rational sphere. It consists of a rational policy of maximising benefit, and intelligence that calculates advantage. You can decide to trust.
Power doesn't come from above. It exists in the relationship of one individual to another in so far as the individual has freedom to act.
You are not really a member of the group until you have earned the trust of others. And trust develops when you place the objectives of the group above your own ego. The group always comes first.
What brings us together, what induces us to act considerately, is common problems.
Problems that allow us to collaborate must fulfill at least two conditions. First, they must be important problems that affect our business life directly or indirectly. Second, they must be self-evident problems; it's no good if people aren't aware of them unless they are given a briefing, or unless they have a university education.
Trust is rational against a background of common problems
Collective identity arises when management succeeds in presenting problems as collective problems.
Only those two trust themselves can trust others. People can be capable of trust only if they have relatively secure, prolonged contact with their own sense of reliability.
Being faithful to agreements is the core of trust.
What principle do managers follow? If they seek success it will be trust. If they are out to avoid failure, it will be mistrust.
Trust is inconceivable without taking a risk; it therefore requires courage. It is a bet on the future; it is located between knowing and not knowing. Under some circumstances, it entails taking risks that endanger life. But it also involves important chances.
A breach of trust occurs only if the other person fails to adhere to agreements in which expectations are balanced.
Trust is the rule, mistrust as the exception, not vice versa.
The gain from confirmed trust remains invisible and isn't even detected, whereas the loss from abused trust is visible and experienced directly.
The rules of second chance ethics are:
1. Always offer to cooperate first.
2. If your offer is returned, be prepared to trust in the long term; if not then punish immediately and mercilessly.
3. Offer the trust again after a certain period
Under no circumstances should you turn a blind eye to a breach of trust. Don't allow someone to break your implicit trust. If you don't act, you are an accomplice, as good as saying 'it's it okay to abuse trust'.
Tit for tat also applies in the event of you doing something wrong. Don't cover it up, but face up to it fairly and squarely. 'My behaviour wasn't acceptable and that matters to me. Will you give me another chance?' Scarcely anyone would deny you.
Trust isn't a matter of models and Mission statements. The acid test is the concrete behaviour of the person fixing the values in cases of conflict.
If you work with someone, you should trust them. If you don't trust them, you should do better not to work with them.
The decision to trust is then the result of rational calculation mixed with emotional processes.