Trust. Trust is something that usually is built up after a long period; after some acquaintance. It is true that in extreme cases (and fear) this period may be shortened. This is a usual technique performed in various workshops. However, we are speaking about a process. A process in which, step by step, we open to others and enable them reach us, starting the trust.
Trust is a significant component helping the knowledge workers performing their job. All Knowledge Management philosophers have spoke on trust and its influence on our readiness to share knowledge. I have written, in one of the first posts, on the importance of knowledge sharing to the success of the job of knowledge workers. Trust, of course, is an important component aiding the performance of all workers, also those who stand in the manufacturing line and feed in materials. Nevertheless, the significance of trust grows in the case of knowledge workers. For them, the motivation and the integration with other employees are key factors for success.
As we understand building trust, or more precisely nurturing it, is not that simple. We are speaking about a composed process, very sensitive one, hard to build, but too easy to destroy. The process turns even more complicated as the manager has to nurture three separate zones of trust, to do with the knowledge workers they are in charge of.
First, a trust feeling has to be built so that employees believe and trust the manager and the organization. Nurturing values as authentication, honesty and organizational transparency can be practical ways to built up trust. Bringing to minimum, the times in which we speak and act differently, being honest not only to employees but also to customers and competitors, aid and may bring the employee to trust the manager and the organization. I believe that the best way to bring employees to trust me is to trust them.
However, trust should not only be aimed to the manager and organization. The manager has to nurture an atmosphere of trust between the employees. Tools that can help here are diverse: Encouraging shared activities after work hours, or activities not related to the job (trips, eating together, etc.); building cellular billing programs so that conversations between employees do not cost them. Informing employees when their colleagues are missing from work, wherever possible, bringing them to take an interest one in another; reminding birthdays; publicity of professional successes; running events with families etc. The trust is built in enlarging circles, where the most important circles are the close one, those where frequent interfaces take place. It must be noted, that this is the easiest circle of trust to nurture as people hold face-to-face meetings.
The last zone of trust is with the customers. As has already been written above, when elaborating on trust toward managers, reciprocity is critical. In order to have a customer trust us, I should be authentic and honest with him or her. To really want their benefit. To trust them. There is no place here for fakes. If I do not dignify the customer, if I do not open to him or her personally, if I do not treat them as a person and not only as a professional, it will be hard to buy in their trust. Unless, of course, I find a way to bring them to some extreme situation, as the ski story in the beginning of this post. This strategy is not recommended!
The journey to trust is long, but the results are very satisfactory. The effort is worthwhile! Not only for the knowledge worker. For me.