Trust in the Workplace: It’s More Than Just Experience, It’s About Keeping Promises

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Hey there! Let’s settle into our favorite coffee shop corner and dive into a topic that’s been swirling around in my head. If we don’t have trust from another person in a relationship, it’s almost certain we have no influence, and we can all agree you can’t lead effectively without influence. Today, we’re talking about trust in the workplace and how this old concept is taking on new meanings in our fast-paced, information-rich world.

The Information Age and Trust

Rewind to 40 years ago, pre-internet. Picture a lawyer with exclusive access to legal texts in a university library. Their authority came from this privileged access. Now, fast forward to our current era. Anyone, anywhere, can access that same information with a quick Google search. This easy access to knowledge is a game-changer. It’s not about just having expertise anymore; it’s about how one interprets and applies this widely available knowledge. When a layperson and a legal expert can access the same information but arrive at different conclusions, it shakes the traditional foundation of trust. It raises questions. Why should we trust someone’s expertise when we have the same information at our fingertips?

Not Just a Hierarchy Thing

This shift isn’t limited to lawyers; it permeates through all aspects of our lives, including in our restoration organizations. With podcasts, books, and the content that’s made available by top performers on social media, employees of all ages, and titles are being exposed to high level training and information in their day to day. As an incredibly fired up twenty something early in my professional career, I completely immersed myself in the information that was out there. When I stumbled across Jocko Willink’s podcast I got hooked on the messaging as so many others have. I read the book Extreme Ownership and although I already had some of the beliefs he speaks to, I certainly wasn’t able to articulate them. Jocko was a highly successful leader in the Navy SEALs and a big part of his message is this: if something doesn’t go the way we want it to in our organization, it’s our fault. Reading his stories about taking ownership encouraged me to take ownership for my own position, and my relationships with my co-workers. I began to try to lead up and down the chain of command, but day in and day out I would watch leadership around me do the opposite. I would see how it affected buy-in on my team and in our organization. The organization was saying one thing and doing another, and leaders would fail to implement and execute and blame it on downline staff. Had I not had access to the amount of information I had about what quality leadership looks like I might not have thought twice about it. But I did, and it forced me to lose trust in leaders, and in some ways the organization’s ability to lead me and the team effectively. 

Earning Trust in Today’s World  

So, what’s the new currency in the trust market? It’s authenticity and transparency. Fancy titles or years of experience don’t automatically earn respect and trust anymore. Organizations and leaders need to demonstrate their trustworthiness through consistent actions and open communication. But why all this fuss about trust, you might ask? In a nutshell, stability and effectiveness. We want to work in places where there’s minimal staff turnover and maintain a loyal customer base. Trust is the bedrock of any lasting relationship. It’s gotten harder to build trust, but the effort is well worth it. When trust is established, it opens up incredible potential for both professional and personal growth. So, what’s the secret sauce? It’s simple, yet challenging: keep your promises. You would be amazed at the mistakes you can get away with in the delivery of important messages if people trust your intentions. 

When I worked in Property Management, I would often communicate to my staff that I would ask more of them than most managers ever would, but in return I would take better care of them than anyone else would, and I was prepared to walk that out. I approved any and all time off requests, no questions asked. If that meant I was keeping both offices open myself so, be it. I would routinely take my staff out to game nights or karaoke on my dime. Most importantly I would take the time to get to know where my staff wanted to be in the next one, three, five years, and do everything in my power to see to it they got there. Oftentimes that resulted in expending a tremendous amount of personal energy in equipping people with leadership capabilities that they would use to get promoted and leave our properties or start their own businesses. I mentioned earlier I was fired up in my early twenties, sometimes that meant that when communicating values or holding up standards on my team, I was rough. I can honestly say that even when I dropped the ball and communicated in a way that wasn’t the most professional, or I was a little too tough, I didn’t lose influence with my team. They offered me grace, because they knew I wanted what was best for them and what was best for us. They knew it not just because I said that, but because I showed them. What does this mean for you?

 Let’s say your business touts excellent customer service. Then, every interaction, every policy, every decision should underscore this commitment to service. It’s in the big strategic moves and the small daily tasks, like following the checklist you’ve set for your team. It’s about showing, not just telling, that your words align with your actions.

The Role of Leaders in Building Trust

Leaders have a unique role in this new trust paradigm. They must navigate this era where employees and customers are more informed and empowered than ever. It’s about engaging in meaningful dialogues, listening actively, and being open to feedback. A leader’s actions, their commitment to the company’s values, and their ability to admit mistakes and learn from them are now critical trust-building tools. Consistency is key. Whether it’s how customer complaints are handled or how employee contributions are recognized, every action sends a message about what your organization truly values. Reliability, too, plays a crucial role. When people know what to expect from you and your organization, trust naturally follows.

Wrapping Up

I started my journey with Floodlight just two short months ago. I came to a team loaded with decades of experience in the restoration industry. I’m younger than most of the team, and I come from a Property Management background, which roughly translates to I have zero restoration experience! As the Business Manager, I’m not just influencing our own internal ops, I’m also advising the leadership team on strategic decision making. How on earth can I build my voice in these relationships to have maximal impact in as short of a time as possible? Well, I can start by doing everything I say I’m going to do, and showing through action that I am exactly who I say I am. While that by itself doesn’t make me a great leader, or have a massive tangible impact on the organization, it starts building trust, the leadership capital I’ll need to make big changes down the road. As we finish our coffees, let’s ponder this. Trust in the modern workplace is a complex, multifaceted gem. It’s no longer just a byproduct of experience or authority. It’s about the congruence of words and actions, the consistency of behaviors, and the genuine commitment to organizational values. In this era, trust is earned by doing what you say you will do, and being who you say you are.

So, as we step back into our daily lives, let’s ask ourselves: How are we building trust in our interactions, both big and small?

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Wayne Hudson

Wayne has built a dynamic career rooted in the skills acquired during a 7 year stint in Property Management. While managing portfolios of hundreds of units spanning multiple locations he focused on becoming a more strategic thinker and worked hard to build high impact relationships.
After honing his leadership skills through hands-on management and navigating unique vendor partnerships, Wayne took a bold step in 2021, leaving his career in Property Management and pursuing competitive submission grappling while traveling the country.
Now, Wayne thrives in a remote role at Floodlight, applying his expertise to the growing team while planning his upcoming wedding with his fiance Hunter and heeler mix Samantha.

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