This will be a short posting because I am not sure what I mean by “trust.” Oh, I know the dictionary definition and can even point to several books on the subject. Even so, here is my real dilemma: can I really trust my organization and my leaders when they embark on a trust-building effort? Either I feel like this is another management fad that will be quickly forgotten when the expected results don’t quickly appear or this is just a way for the management to achieve organizational goals by pretending to be interested in my personal goals. When do I become so cynical?*
Search for organizational trust on Google and you will come up many consultants ready to put trust back in the organization. Here are the “four principles of trust,” the “five A’s of trust,” and “Trust 2.0.” Which method should I trust to give me trust? How do I know that I am not being manipulated and will actually benefit from being trusting?
I think what is needed is a better term than trust that really captures the kind of ideal relationship between employees and the organization where I feel engaged in the organizational mission and willing to collaborate with other employees to achieve the shared mission. Is this engagement? Alignment? Or loyalty? Is trust enough or do we need more in our work relationships?
Answering this question is vital because if we want more innovative agencies that better serve the American public then we need to allow for experimentation, risk-taking, and thinking differently. All this requires a safe environment in which employees can trust that they will not be penalized for giving an honest effort.
*Note: My guess is in the early 90s when reengineering was all the rage.