The Importance of Trust in the Workplace

16 Sep

At a young age, we are taught the importance of earning the trust of others, but we aren’t taught the dangers that come with having too much trust in those around us in the workplace.  Having said that, having managers who can trust their colleagues in the workplace is vital to a firm’s success.  Perhaps the best example of the dangers a manager faces by placing too much trust in his/her colleagues involves the controversy surrounding Enron’s financial statements and its eventual collapse due to fraudulent activity.

1.  No one person can do everything himself.

Being able to count on others and rely on their work without doubting their research and accuracy promotes constructive workplace relationships and effective communication.

2.  However, don’t trust people too much.

Managers can lose their jobs or even get prosecuted and end up in jail if they don’t check information themselves or if they rely on colleagues’ work when they have some reason to question the information.  One must remember that in the end, as the manager or the head of a team, YOU bear responsibility for the project.  The Sarbanes–Oxley Act passed in 2002 reinforces this idea by forcing executives to sign their companies’ financial statements and accept responsibility for the numbers presented.

3.  Be careful not to “test” people.

Managers often test new employees to see if they can be trusted.  Sometimes, managers will set up employees with the opportunity to deceive them on a project in order to judge their employees’ character.  Having this kind of a “test” can create immediate ill will in working relationships if the employees find out they were assigned a task or were being watched solely to judge their trustworthiness.

4.  Everyone makes mistakes.

Help your employees, but be careful of consistent mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes, and one must realize that we all aren’t perfect.  Managers must be responsible for working with their team to teach employees how to do their work correctly while also noting repeated errors that may give rise to concerns about the employee’s honesty or integrity.

I heed one piece of advice: Having trust in others is key but letting that trust hinder proper judgment and due diligence can be dangerous… very dangerous.

by Greg Porter

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