marshmallow.jpgRecently I was asked to help mediate team conflict in an organization. In my work with teams I often find at the heart of conflict and low productivity is trust. When team members do not trust one another communication breaks down and conflict escalates. If you want your team to work better together be trustworthy.  Current research on trust in the workplace indicates there is a decline in trust that individuals have in business, political leaders, and in institutions. People do not automatically trust leaders these days. Trust needs to be earned.   

Is there a Second Marshmallow?

Walter Micschell conducted a famous study on delayed gratification among 4 year olds.  The kids were put in a room and given a marshmallow. The kids  were told that the researcher had to leave the room for a short time. They could either eat the marshmallow now, but those kids that waited for the researcher to return would be given a second marshmellow. 14 years later, kids that delayed gratification and waited were more trustworthy, more dependable, and more self-reliant, than the kids that ate the marshmallow. Trust is based on anticipation of a promise. The ability to trust one another penetrates almost every aspect of our daily lives.  And it is fundamentally important in the ability to develop healthy relationships.  Just like the 4 year olds- trusting there was a second marshmallow…. your employees need to trust you and that your word is your bond.

Top 5 Practices for Developing Trust

1. Mind Your Personal Brand

What are you known for? What is your reputation? Are you know to be trustworthy? Consistently doing what’s “right” creates respect and build trust.  

 2. Be known as a Truth Teller

As managers there are times we can not disclose information to our employees. However to preserve trust, you can say “this is all I am able to tell you at this time.” Transparency is key to being seen as trustworthy.

3. Be Consistent

Are you consistent with everyone you interact with? Do you treat everyone with kindness and compassion? Do you handle your moods, so you are not seen as agreeable one day and confrontational the next?  Do you treat all employees as equal partners? Do you consistently deliver great work?   


4. Focus on Shared Goals

How often do you use the word “I” vs “we”? Be willing to help. Make it easy for customers to do business with you and employees to know you have their best interests at heart. Make your employees feel “safe” to talk to you.

  5.  View Promises as an Unpaid Debt

Establish and maintain integrity. No mater how hard, keep your promises, and follow through on commitments. Communication is important, since it provides the pipeline for information and truth.