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Welcome to the June 2008 issue of Alignment Solutions! This month we build on May’s topic of workplace and personal values by taking a closer look at TRUST. No organization can optimize its business results unless there is trust among its employees. Yet establishing a trusting environment often seems to be a challenging endeavor. Why is this the case? On a personal level, self-trust seems to elude many individuals. When it does, our quality of life is diminished. What can we do to address these important issues?

The premise of the Feature Article, Trust: A Personal Value Essential to Organizational Success, is that organizations whose employees lack trust in management, colleagues, and themselves cannot optimize their business results. We offer some insight into this complex yet elusive value by focusing on what distinguishes trust from other workplace values.

In the Business Solutions section, Building Trust in the Workplace offers suggestions for how to personalize the value “trust” so you can determine specifically what you need to say and do to earn others’ trust. Conversely, do your colleagues and subordinates know what they must do to earn your trust? If not, this article should be of interest.

In the Personal Solutions section, Save Yourself an Unnecessary Trip: Trust Your Internal Wizard challenges you to examine your level of self-trust. My experience is that people often are unaware that they have the talent and skills they need to succeed in life. What can you do to be sure you don’t get caught in this trap?

I invite you to visit my web site at to find articles and resources that may be of value to you and your colleagues. I welcome your feedback!


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Trust: A Personal Value Essential to Organizational Success

Why spend time developing and nurturing trusting relationships in the workplace? Put simply, no organization can optimize its business results unless there is trust among its employees.

Like other values, trust is something that must be gained over time. We are not “entitled” to others’ trust; we have to earn it. Unlike other values, trust is very personal. That is, we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability when we trust others, so our well-being rests partly in their hands. In effect, because we cede control of some part(s) of our lives to those individuals, we have a vested and personal interest in the outcome. Our hope is that their actions will justify the faith we have entrusted to them, and that they will live up to our expectations.

The fact that trust is so personal is illustrated by the terms we tend to use when people have proven to be untrustworthy – i.e., we say they have violated or betrayed our trust. “Violate” and “betray” are very strong words with important emotional connotations. They also are very personal: we feel that someone who betrays our trust has inflicted a personal injustice on us. Now contrast those words to the language we use to describe what happens when people do not demonstrate other values, such as professionalism and integrity: we say those people are being unprofessional, or that they lack integrity. We tend to view other people’s lack of values as indicators of character that have to do with them, not with us – i.e., they do not affect us personally.

What does trust “look like” in the workplace? I recently worked with a client to help communicate and personalize a set of values that executives want employees to embody. Here are a few of the behaviors people identified as indicators that “management is trustworthy:”

  • Walk the talk and keep their promises
  • Actions are consistent with stated values
  • Do the right thing even when there is pressure not to do so
  • Make decisions based on what’s good for the organization
Here is a simple, three-step exercise that you can use to quickly and clearly establish why trust is critical to optimizing business results:
  1. Envision a workplace in which there are trusting relationships across the organization. Describe the picture that comes to mind.
  2. Now envision a workplace devoid of trust. Describe the picture that comes to mind.
  3. Given these two scenarios, ask yourself in which environment you would rather work – or perhaps you do work.

If your organization is characterized by trusting relationships, celebrate! Be sure to keep up the good work: once lost, trust is exceptionally difficult to restore. If your organization is failing to optimize its results because of a lack of trust, what will your next step be?

For a more complete discussion of this topic, including definitions of trust and examples of behaviors and outcomes that demonstrate trust, please see the complete article Trust: A Personal Value Essential to Organizational Success on my web site.


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Building Trust in the Workplace

What is the level of trust in your organization? How do you know?

If you cannot answer these two questions, it’s time to stop talking about trust and to start defining or describing it. Unless you and others can articulate what trust looks and feels like – i.e., you share a common “picture” of trust AND you personalize it – you can neither evaluate its presence or absence accurately nor develop and maintain trusting relationships effectively.

Here are some questions to help you begin to develop a common picture of trust in your workplace:

  • How do you know when you trust others? That is, what must they do and say for you to conclude that they are trustworthy?
  • Do others know what they must to do earn your trust?
  • How do others know they can trust you?
  • Do you know what you must do and say to earn others’ trust?

Developing a common picture of trust is a key first step in building trusting relationships in the workplace. However, while it is essential, it is not sufficient. You also must personalize this value by ensuring that every individual can articulate clearly what trust means to him or her, AND how it relates to the organization’s definition. Here are some additional steps that will get you started in moving forward:

  • Define trust at the organizational level
  • Describe in behavioral terms what people must experience (i.e., see, hear) to agree that they are giving AND receiving trust
  • Practice engaging in these behaviors over time
  • Give and receive feedback about these behaviors specifically
  • Reward and support behaviors that demonstrate trust

Six months after engaging in these steps, ask yourself the two questions at the beginning of this article. The answers should be much different – as should your workplace environment.


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Save Yourself an Unnecessary Trip: Trust Your Internal Wizard

Do you trust yourself? Do you have full faith that your talents and skills are enough to enable your success, or are you on a never-ending quest to find that elusive “missing piece” that, once found, you believe will enable you to become the successful person of your dreams?

When I think of self-trust, the movie The Wizard of Oz comes to mind. At the end of their long and perilous journey, the main characters learned that the missing “piece” each one of them wanted more than anything else in the world existed within themselves; they had just failed to recognize that fact. I see three lessons in this movie that apply to many people:

  1. None of the characters was aware that what they were seeking, and had endured many dangers to find, was within.
  2. All acted in ways consistent with their mistaken beliefs.
  3. Each one needed permission from the Wizard to recognize their existing talents.

My experience in executive coaching is that people often are unaware of their talents or they do not trust their own awareness. Further, they behave as though they don’t have these talents. Often they feel they need permission to use them. They need help in recognizing and using their talents so they can step more fully into their greatness and become even more successful in business and in life.

The self-awareness part is crucial, and in fact, that’s all some people need to make dramatic leaps forward personally and professionally. Here are eight steps you can take to recognize and use the greatness that lies within by acting as your own self-awareness Wizard:

  1. Believe in yourself and your talents – i.e., those innate, non-transferable predispositions that make you who you are.
  2. If you do not or cannot believe in yourself, find someone who does – i.e., a friend, colleague, family member, coach, or mentor. Learning from that person what he/she sees in you will help you discover your talents.
  3. Give yourself permission to succeed.
  4. If you need help in giving yourself that permission, find someone who will teach you how to do it. (Note: While having someone else give you permission is a good start, you must learn to rely on yourself for permission to succeed in life.)
  5. Cultivate your talents. Although they cannot be taught, they can be enhanced or improved through experience and acquiring new skills.
  6. Make full use your current skills. Skills are things you can learn, and they improve with practice. They are transferable and come from outside, not from within.
  7. Learn new skills to supplement your existing talent when appropriate.
  8. Celebrate yourself and your success!

I believe that we find the things for which we search. Thus when we search internally for the talents that enable our success, we will find them. However, when we don’t trust our inner wisdom, like Dorothy and her pals, we are likely to go off on unnecessary journeys to seek what, ultimately, lies within. I encourage you to trust yourself. Recognize and develop your strengths. It’s your choice: will your life’s journey be about recognizing and leveraging your talents and skills, or about searching futilely outside yourself for the “missing” piece that, in fact, lies within?

For a more complete discussion of this topic, including an example that illustrates now transformative self-awareness can be, please see the full version of my article Save Yourself an Unnecessary Trip: Trust Your Internal Wizard on my web site.


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Date of Publication: June, 2008 | 562.985.0333
Copyright 2008 - All rights reserved, Pat Lynch