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Bruised trust?

Remote working during Covid-19 and now the shift to hybrid working has put the spotlight on trust and culture.

Psychological safety is a phrase that has been in the media a lot during lockdown.

What is ‘psychological safety’?

Psychological safety means being able to be yourself without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career. It can be defined as a shared belief that work is safe for interpersonal risk taking. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected, they know that they can make mistakes and learn and improve.

In a word, psychological safety is about trust.

Trust isn’t something that is talked about much. It is either there or it isn’t.

To quote a quote, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.”

What creates trust and what destroys it?

So what creates trust and what destroys it? Who can you trust and how can you be sure? Some people trust easily and with others you need to earn it. The proof is not in the pudding, but in the eating. The dictionary definitions of trust are: “Firm belief that a person or thing may be relied upon. Feeling sure of the loyalty. Accepting as true without testing.”

Employees working from home rather than in the office where you can see what they are doing is understandably difficult for many managers.

How do you know that they are working hard, productive and doing what they are supposed to do? Observing employees on wall-to-wall zooms isn’t easy. Making judgements is quick and easy to do with little evidence.

Could they be watching Netflix or binging on Box-sets instead of working. How do you know? If you have suspicions, how to you ask without being seen as an uncaring manager, lacking empathy about their welfare affected by the global pandemic?

Below is a summary of signs of trust being absent and present.

Signs of trust being absent – behaviours

  • Guarded

  • Shut down

  • Edited sharing

  • Withholding ideas

  • Closed body language

  • Protecting own interests

  • Lots of internal dialogue

  • External gossip

  • Limitation of potential

  • Everyone in it for themselves

  • Doubt

What else would you add?

Signs of trust being present – behaviours

  • Full and honest disclosure

  • Openness

  • Admitting to mistakes

  • Open body language

  • Asking for help

  • More external dialogue

  • Discussion of problems

  • Feeling safe

What else would you add?

6 tips to explore trust

  1. Think of someone you trust implicitly. What is in place, spoken or unspoken, for this trust to exist?

  2. Think of an occasion when you were let down by someone you trusted. What happened and what does this tell you about you and trust?

  3. Ask yourself “How can I get the right balance between openness and safety?”

  4. Thinking about your workplace, out of 100%, to what extent do the behaviours indicate that trust is present or absent?

  5. What needs to change to increase trust for you at work and how will you know?

  6. Conduct a ‘pulse survey’ to measure current levels of trust and conduct some focus groups/individual interviews to mine insights to inform decision making about hybrid working policies.

Quotes about trust

“Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust even harder.” Maria V Snyder.

“Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It is the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey.

“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” Lao Tzu.

“Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.” Bob Vanorek.

“Trust is built on telling the truth, not telling people what they want to hear.” Simon Sinek.

About us

If you want to find out more about ProAge, visit our website

Rachel Brushfield, ProAge, Age-Inclusion at Work LinkedIn: Web: E mail: M + 44 (0) 7973 911137


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