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Trust builds trust

B. Lynn Gordon for Progressive Cattleman Published on 25 June 2018

Would you buy your next herd sire or feed truck from someone you didn’t trust? I would presume not. People prefer to do business with people they can rely on, respect and trust. There is too much at stake to do business in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable.

When we first meet people, we instantly begin to form a first impression by judging their intentions. We begin to subconsciously form an opinion of the person in several ways, including their trustworthiness.

Trust is a central part of our work environment and the relationships which develop between an employer and employee and across business entities. For example, we assume an employer should only hire employees they can trust, but it is as critical and essential the employee also trusts the employer.

Without trust in a working relationship, motivation and engagement from employees deteriorates. Without trust, work relationships will be short-lived.

In the realm of leadership, a leader is someone others are willing to follow. Someone others will listen to, buy a product from, work for, etc. The dynamics of trust in working relationships have been studied and explored for decades. The result? Trust builds trust.

People follow leaders because they are honest; in other words, people follow people who are trustworthy. When we are trusted, we are also more likely to trust in return.

The following are three questions to consider to measure your leadership trustworthiness:

How do I demonstrate trust to the people who follow me?

In essence, to become a trustworthy employer, your goal is to be believable and authentic. These qualities create credibility. Consider the example of building a house. Every house needs a solid foundation. But when you build a house, you also need sturdy walls, quality windows, a strong roof and well-placed doors for access. Yet without that solid foundation to begin with, the house will crumble.

As an agricultural employer, the solid foundation of your house is your representation of trust – someone employees know they can trust, who believes in them and will be true to his or her word. We may think because we trust an employee, they will know it. However, even though we try with the best intentions to follow up or offer support, it may also convey our insecurity in an employee’s ability.

Let them know doing periodic check-ins is your method to keep open lines of communication and offer them the chance to communicate directly back to you rather than them wondering if it is your way of measuring their job performance.

How can I create a climate of trust and facilitate relationships?

Start off on the right foot with new employees. As a leader, your actions speak loudly to others. Therefore, building a level of trust with new employees is essential, albeit more time-consuming. Take the time to let new employees get to know you. Make sure you clearly manifest back you want to understand them, their questions and concerns.

Demonstrate you value them by taking extra time to visit about how they feel about their responsibilities and roles, and even go further, asking about their interests, hobbies, etc. This is a big step in their eyes of building trust in you. In addition, be clear about what is important and why it is important.

If you tell an employee something is important, follow through on what you say. In agriculture, many tasks are related to the season and, therefore, priorities shift from season to season. Focus on identifying both overall priorities and seasonal priorities you expect.

How can I ensure others will trust me in return?

To engage others, you need trust. To build mutual trust, the other individual must feel trusted. Trust is a dynamic viewed from the inside out. A leader must elevate their ability to be open, transparent and willing to trust before they can ask those around them to increase their own level of trust.

It’s the responsibility of the employer/leader on the farm, ranch or agribusiness setting to signal trust to their employees. The payoff will be higher work ethic, greater confidence in their abilities and overall job satisfaction, all of which will benefit the bottom line of any business. For example, put yourself in the shoes of your employee.

Do your policies and practices demonstrate an environment to build engagement with employees, or are they designed to protect the business from them? Do you demonstrate you trust them with the resources and information of the business? Are their input, ideas and creativity cultivated – or controlled?

In our fast-paced world, taking steps to understand how to convey trust and build trust begins with thoughtful behaviors that will promote trust, build open and honest communication and feedback, and demonstrate a willingness to be transparent and reliable.

Simply put, people will not believe the message if they don’t believe the messenger.  end mark

Editor’s note: This column focuses on an employer/employee relationship, yet these practices can also apply to a business/customer relationship. 

B. Lynn Gordon, Ph.D.
  • B. Lynn Gordon, Ph.D.

  • Consultant/Ag Writer
  • LEADER Consulting - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Email B. Lynn Gordon, Ph.D.

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