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Are you Trustworthy and Trusting?
There seems to be consensus the global levels of trust are shrinking.

It includes but is not limited to our personal relationships, the leadership in our governments, health and medical communities, and oh yes, also in our project teams and the organizations we work with.

If you agree with this premise, is this decline a symptom of our changing values and beliefs?

Merriam Webster’s definition of trust is, “an assured reliance on the character, ability strength or truth of someone or something.”

With trust we have seen the positive power of its presence, and its destructive forces at work when absent.

How is trust earned, lost and if possible, restored?

What makes you or your relationships trustworthy?

What is your definition of trust and how do you measure it?

How has trust built or burnt bridges for you?
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Good question, John!

I'm not sure I'd agree that trust is diminishing overall, but our trust of those in authority (e.g. our leaders, our governments) has suffered. The "Great Resignation" is just one data point for this as folks leave managers not companies...

Everyone has a default trust level for strangers. For some, it is low, for others it is high. But then, as we start to experience gaps between what we expect and what occurs in our interactions, trust increases or decreases.

Transparency helps in increasing trust, especially when a relationship is new.

As PMs, trust is one of the main currencies we deal in. If stakeholders don't trust us, they are more likely to take actions which will negatively impact the project and its outcomes. As such, it is critical that we do whatever we can to maintain a high level of trust, especially with key stakeholders.

Kiron
My Definition of Trust is to hold the commitments made either in profession or relationship. If you are not committed to what you said or promised you are not trustworthy.

During project executions - You build trust on delivering what is planned and giving excuses every now and often.

I have experienced both type of cases where people broke the trust and people built the trust. It is all about discipline and culture. How seriously people take the commitments made to customers and projects...There are some possible ways to measure trust.

Great topic.
John,

What a great question at this point in time, especially in Australia.

Our prime minster is perceived to be lying by the French president, and our previous NSW premier has been called by NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to investigate whether she breached public trust.

On the organisational front, there are two types of trust, the trust that we / our team members have the ability to do the job we are hired to do, and the other trusting that we have each other’s back.

Reflecting on my experience, the worst type of culture is the passive aggressive culture – a culture that erodes not only trust but also the ability and confidence of any team to dedicate its efforts and focus in achieving successful outcomes.
The passive aggressive environments send the wrong messages, where other stakeholders and team members are being friendly, polite and maybe even supportive when you’re in the same room, while they do their best sabotaging what you do, hindering what the team could achieve - by casting doubt on the approach and the possible outcomes. This toxic environment is the kryptonite for trust.
In such a culture, my thoughts are that it’s almost impossible to establish trust – no matter how much one tries - leaving is the best solution for one’s sanity.
...
1 reply by Kiron Bondale
Nov 02, 2021 4:52 PM
Kiron Bondale
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Great point about the passive-aggressive culture, Amany, and I'd draw a connection to the ruinous empathy/manipulative insincerity quadrants of Kim Scott's "Radical Candor" model. When teams are operating in those zones, genuine trust is lacking...

Kiron
Nov 02, 2021 4:29 PM
Replying to Amany Nuseibeh
...
John,

What a great question at this point in time, especially in Australia.

Our prime minster is perceived to be lying by the French president, and our previous NSW premier has been called by NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to investigate whether she breached public trust.

On the organisational front, there are two types of trust, the trust that we / our team members have the ability to do the job we are hired to do, and the other trusting that we have each other’s back.

Reflecting on my experience, the worst type of culture is the passive aggressive culture – a culture that erodes not only trust but also the ability and confidence of any team to dedicate its efforts and focus in achieving successful outcomes.
The passive aggressive environments send the wrong messages, where other stakeholders and team members are being friendly, polite and maybe even supportive when you’re in the same room, while they do their best sabotaging what you do, hindering what the team could achieve - by casting doubt on the approach and the possible outcomes. This toxic environment is the kryptonite for trust.
In such a culture, my thoughts are that it’s almost impossible to establish trust – no matter how much one tries - leaving is the best solution for one’s sanity.
Great point about the passive-aggressive culture, Amany, and I'd draw a connection to the ruinous empathy/manipulative insincerity quadrants of Kim Scott's "Radical Candor" model. When teams are operating in those zones, genuine trust is lacking...

Kiron
John, very interesting series of questions...
It is alerting for me when we start talking about changes in values, especially human ones...when it comes to building trust or being trustworthy, for me, it is all about being responsible (committed) and honest (authentic). This is how you gain the trust of others, this is not an easy thing to achieve, but with time, experience and how you act in different situations, trust can be established and last.
Great point of discussion John. Trust is all that matters in professional or personal spaces. Gaining trust of others is sheer by walking the talk as they say.

Thanks for posting
Thank you, John, for this very important question…

For one to be trusted or be trustworthy is for one to be committed to and transparent in what one says and does within his/her community or organisation at all times. It takes a lot of effort to built trust but very easy to lose it just by a simple show of dishonesty. To rebuild a broken trust is even more difficult as it takes a lot more to convince people to restore the trust, they had for you before.

In my part of the world where corruption is at very high levels, it is extremely difficult for the citizenry to trust political leaders in government and local communities. For this reason, it takes a lot more effort by political leaders to gain the trust of the people, even though they may have been very trustworthy people before entering into political leadership.

In my world, it is easier for people to trust project managers than political leaders. This comes as a result of past experiences that the citizens have had from politicians. Political leaders most often make promises just to gain the votes of their citizens and once they gain the power they want, they turn away from the promises they made only to give excuses or pretend they never even made such promises.

Staying truthful to your words and deeds at all times definitely keeps you trustworthy. It should not matter which environment or part of the world you find yourself. A SPADE must be called a SPADE at all times and not a BIG SPOON at some other times.
I strive to be transparent as possible when working with people, especially as I'm the Quality leader! If people don't trust my data or contributions, I would be in trouble.
Trust is a way of life; as someone here put it aptly, it's walking the talk.

In the PM way of life, one can gain trust by creating 1:1 relations, nurturing them when possible, keeping promises and commitments and let know beforehand when a promise or a commitment cannot be honored.

If there is a bad news to be disclosed, do not hesitate. Just let it be in the open and explain why the news is bad, what went wrong, what could have been done to save the situation and what lessons are learnt. At any cost, do not try to sugar coat an unfavorable situation just to save your face. People will trust a PM who is honest upfront at the cost of a relation or a contract than someone who is dishonest for their selfish needs. Trust must be the core value of any team that strives to achieve success in the longer run. And the PM is the starting point for that.
Hi John,

nice to read from you again!
Great question.

I am not sure if trust is shrinking globally. Is this supported by some research? Agree that we can see pockets of growing distrust in politicians in some countries, but you can also see positive signs e.g. when Corona is handled well as in Portugal, and if elections show that extremists earn less votes, like it happened in Germany.

But, yes, trust is a key feature of human relations and it is based on the same human values that drive us since 100s of 1000s of years. I mean honesty, respect, fairness, responsibility, and also care, community, humility and autonomy (sounds familiar?).

Read a nice little helper how to build trust, which is a influencing skill for any project manager, parent, teacher and leader: Ken Blanchard's Trust works.

The authors offer a 4 pronged approach how to build trust:
A - being able = having a competency valuable for others
B - being believable = be honest, punctual, do as you say
C- become connected = show empathy, care, build community
D - being dependable = be reliable, accountable, responsive

There are many definitions and descriptions out there, I liked 'trust is the willingness to suffer'. Well known for parents and pet owners.

Thomas
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2 replies by Denathayalan Ramasamy and Jinfeng Yuan
Feb 10, 2022 3:39 AM
Jinfeng Yuan
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Hey Thomas, thank you for this sharing with knowledges of Ken Blanchard. I’d like to try the 4B approach. Thank you for John and all answers here. I learned a lot in this discussion.
Mar 05, 2022 10:27 PM
Denathayalan Ramasamy
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Nice Quote Thomas; During the initial part of your career, you might trust the process, leaders. On-demand & change realization, you become trustworthy in order to lead others.
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