Trust : do you jump without a safety net ?

Rudy sounded convinced : “You can’t really trust your employees !” Last week, he had arrived 30 minuten early at the office and what did he see ? Three team members were chatting alongside the coffee machine and another was cosily reading a newspaper. “Trust,” he concluded, “ is something you need to earn. Until then, a manager better keeps his eyes and ears open”.


Trust is the key to successful entrepreneurship.
Research clearly demonstrates that organisations with a culture based on trust score better than their competitors in regard to turnover, productivity and engagement.

Not that Rudy wasn’t aware of this. In the past, he had gone as far as to organise a workshop for his team to stimulate mutual trust.
During one of the exercises, each team member had to fall off a chair - blindfolded. The other team members were supposed to function as a safety net. You can’t deny the thrill of it … but in retrospect, it didn’t contribute to trusting each other in the office.

Let’s admit it : you don’t run around blindfolded at work. These type of games are nothing more than amusing gimmicks.

Real trust pre-supposes that each team member has good intentions. Most folks don’t find this problematic : we usually prefer trust over mistrust. That’s why we don’t like over-zealous inspectors. Controle on attendance may lead to less absence … but it certainly doesn’t have a positive effect on results.

To trust each other you do need three things : fairness, respect and credibility.


“That is so unfair !” Remember how you felt when someone cheated in childhood games ? Don’t we still cringe when facing unfair behaviour ? The world around us may not always turn out how we like it to be but at the very least, we expect to work for a fair organisation. We want each employee to be treated impartially and objectively. Everyone knows which team member cuts corners and a manager who doesn’t intervene is one you can’t trust.


Employees want to feel respected for who they are and for their contribution. A good manager has an eye for both : they care for their team members and notice their work.They offer opportunities for growth and involve their employees in important decisions. Knowing that your opinion matters makes you feel respected.


Credibility is the bottom line quality most employees expect in a manager. It is a combination of expertise and authenticity. Managers need the courage to stand up for their team and they certainly shouldn’t tailor their point of view to whoever happens to preside the meeting. Credibility demands authenticity : employees have a finely tuned radar to capture falsity in leaders.


Daring to show your vulnerability is without a doubt the main condition to create an environment of trust. This means that you dare to admit mistakes and that you dare to ask for help when needed.

If you feel you can trust each other you feel safe. You open up, share your doubts and dreams and don’t feel the need to hide your weakness. In a team where trust reigns, these things come naturally and its members aren’t afraid to let go of their grip on the trapeze : they know the others are there to catch them when they fall.


To really work on trust, you better get rid of the blindfold trick.
Instead, give people a chance to talk about themselves. Let team members discover each other’s qualities. What does each one contribute to the team ? At Indra Partners, we like to use Insights Discovery as a means for people to get to know themselves and each other better and to foster appreciation. In our workshops we make sure that a team enjoys a positive experience together. This can be through a business game or through another assignment. Getting results together in a such a way that each member can bank on his/her personal strengths, increases mutual trust.

Rudy was right about one thing though : trust is something you need to earn. However, not by eliminating distrust bit by bit. We know that you get back what you give. If you trust others, you will be trusted in return. And everyone likes to go the extra mile for someone (s)he trusts !


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