4 Steps to Building Trust in Your Federal Organization

“The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.” – Henry Stimson

A recent survey concluded that trust in the workplace has declined over the past few years.

Here’s what you can do to help reverse that trend in your organization:

Be consistent. Eliminate discrepancies between what you say and what you do. People can’t count on you if you react one way today and another way tomorrow.

Listen with an open mind and respect others’ opinions. Attempt to understand and be open to what you hear. Every opinion is worth hearing, even if you don’t agree with it. Listen with a view to understanding the other person.

Admit your mistakes. When you’ve erred, others know it. Own up to your mistakes and apologize when you’re wrong. Don’t try to justify your position, just apologize.

Give credit where credit is due. If the team as a whole did something great, say so. There’s plenty of recognition to go around. If an individual member on your team did a great job, let everyone know. We all thrive when we are recognized for a job well done.

Most relationship problems are essentially trust issues. Whether it’s fear, insecurity, jealousy, or a tendency to be controlling, the real obstacle is a fundamental lack of trust—both in ourselves and in those in our lives. If we learn to build trust and become trustworthy, we can go a long way in our federal career.

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Profile Photo Jerry Rhoads

I would add another to the list. Transparency, I know that is a buzz word these days–but it really needed. It is hard to build trust when people hold valuable information in their pocket and refuse to share or acknowledge that they have it.

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Profile Photo Dannielle Blumenthal

Also, apologize when you create emotional harm. People are very sensitive and you may not know you are slighting them. This is especially true if you are more “T” in Myers Briggs (as opposed to “F”, eg INFP versus INTJ).

Also a hidden factor here is power dynamics at the senior level. Executives are constantly having to prove themselves. They don’t have a safety net. It’s healthy to have high standards and accountability but often enough this becomes toxic and results in “Gotcha Games.” The staff feel this even if they don’t know exactly what is going on. Sometimes they get flak unfairly. All of it not only kills trust, but morale too.

It has to be safe to fail, to ask questions, to apologize. That said it should not be safe to work or abuse the system.

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