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Managing Change for Good: Trust Me

trust fall illustration

As a child, did you ever play the trust-fall game with your friends? The concept is simple: You lean backward like you are falling until the person standing behind you catches you. You put all of your trust into your spotter… otherwise, you crash to the floor. 

That game is surprisingly difficult (which is probably why there are so many “trust fall fail” videos on the Internet). You have to truly believe the person behind you has the intention, the focus, and the strength to catch you. 

It’s not so different for employees today. The workplace feels more volatile than ever. The COVID pandemic ignited and accelerated many of the workforce trends we were already seeing: remote working, job hopping, quiet quitting, and all of the other buzzwords flying around the employment environment.

While some of these trends seem new, change is not new. And to manage change effectively for the good of the organization, leaders need to get back to the basics: the internal factors that make employees feel safe, valued, and empowered. All of these hinge on one core component of culture: trust. 

The HR experts at A Great Place to Work have been researching trust and the workplace for more than 30 years. Their studies have shown that employees experience trust when they: “believe leaders are credible, believe they are treated with respect as people and professionals, and believe the workplace is fundamentally fair.”

In these “high-trust organizations,” trust is a two-way street: Employees trust their leaders to make sound decisions not only for the company but for its workers, and leaders trust their employees to get results. People long for “genuine connection, belonging and meaningful relationships with the people and institutions they trust,” according to the study

Think back through your own work history. In what companies and roles did you feel most effective? Chances are, it was when you trusted the leaders and peers around you. Conversely, in roles where you felt frustrated or less effective, what was the trust level?

This fascinating deep dive into the neuroscience of trust in the workplace reveals that workers in high-trust organizations experience 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy at work, and 40 percent less burnout than employees in low-trust environments.

Obviously, trust is important. But how do you build it? Or rebuild it, if your organization has experienced a setback? I’ve been loving “The Thin Book of Trust,” by Charles Feltman. He cites four necessities of a high-trust organization: 

  • Reliability (Will you follow through?)
  • Competence (Do you have the skillset to do what you say you will do?)
  • Care (Do you feel cared about as a person and not just a worker?)
  • Sincerity (Do you mean what you say?)

I work with organizations of all sizes to address these competencies. One of the most effective tools in diagnosing barriers to trust and implementing change is the EQ-i 2.0. Growth happens with emotionally intelligent leadership — the way we perceive and express ourselves, build and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and — you guessed it! — develop trust in our colleagues.

Would your organization pass the trust-fall test? Let’s dig in and find out. What happens when companies incorporate emotional intelligence strategies into their culture? Growth. Innovation. Results. Employees that are truly engaged and on board. 


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