A trust expert’s advice on building a resilient culture
Rachel Botsman, trust expert, author and lecturer at Oxford University, believes that organisations which create cultures driven by trust and humility are the most successful. Thus, the term trust is used a lot by businesses, but often goes undefined and is misused.
Trust has more definitions than love does, Rachel has said, and it is hard to pin down a single and correct definition. While this is the case, Rachel has provided us with her own take of the definition: “My simplified definition of trust is: a confident relationship with the unknown.”
In our constantly changing environment and within the polycrisis that we are facing, the unknown is proving to be a norm for all of us. By Rachel’s definition, organisations can begin to understand the critical role trust plays in enabling them to navigate uncertainty and to take leaps into the unknown.
“Small and consistent moments are really important for earning an employee’s trust.”
Trust is the social glue of teams and cultures that keeps people together. Rachel has explained: “Trust is spoken about a lot in everyday workplaces, for example, managers saying they need to build more trust and having good gut feelings about prospects and people. But these phrases and assumptions about how trust is earned at work need to be challenged in order for leaders and HR to be truly consistently transparent. It is vital HR teams earn the trust of employees; the events of the past years have demonstrated this. Employees had to trust HR would be there for them throughout the coronavirus pandemic, for example.”
Rachel has said the most powerful principle for earning trust is the idea of consistency.
“If you think about the people in your life that you deeply trust, there will always be an element of consistency to that relationship. They either keep their commitments and promises, show up on time or their words align with their actions,” she explained.
While intensity can make for good instant results, Rachel has argued that consistency drives more sustainable progress within organisations. “Small and consistent moments are really important for earning an employee’s trust, as they will then know what to expect of you and that they can go to you for help and or support,” she said.
“If I had to pick one trait that is usually the most important, that would make it hard to trust someone if they didn’t have it, it would be integrity.”
Rachel has been asked to describe the one behaviour trait she would identify in a trustworthy leader and why this is.
Botsman has responded: “Context is very important when it comes to trust. There are certain situations where competence is key; if a person is not capable or doesn’t have the knowledge and experience to do the job, then they won’t be able to keep teams safe. If I had to pick the trait that is usually the most important, that would make it hard to trust someone if they didn’t have it, it would be integrity.”
Without integrity, it would be difficult for employees to see that leaders have good intentions and align themselves with their thought processes.
Rachel Botsman is a leading expert on trust in the modern world.
She is known for identifying ground-breaking paradigm shifts in business and society. She has been recognized as one of the world’s 30 top management thinkers by Thinkers50, one of the Top 10 most influential voices on LinkedIn, and honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Her TED talks have been viewed more than five million times.
Read more about trust expert Rachel Botsman here!
This article is modified from the original article published by the HR Magazine in 2021.