Trust: The most valuable commodity in the workplace?

By: Steve Marshall Tuesday May 10, 2016 0 comments Tags: Steve Marshall


By Steve Marshall

The answer is "Yes!"

Without trust, there is no performance, no success, no teamwork, no meaning, and definitely no happiness in any workplace. It is the critical foundation and first condition for success anywhere that two or more people are working toward a common goal. In the absence of trust, there can be no conflict, commitment, accountability or results; all of the necessary components for high performance.

What is the definition of a 'commodity'?

"A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other commodities of the same type. Commodities are most often used as inputs in the production of other goods or services. The quality of a given commodity may differ slightly, but it is substantially uniform across producers. When they are traded on an exchange, commodities must also meet specified minimum standards, also known as a basis grade.Steve_Marshall_insideFIXED

Typically, we think of commodities as products such as oil, fruit, pork bellies, and minerals, but isn't trust the same as the definition of commodity?

Let's look; what is the definition of trust? The simplest definition I can find is; "To have confidence in something, or to believe in someone." 

Straightforward and to the point; right?

So, why is trust a commodity?

I know someone that is a commodity (futures) trader; his work day starts at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday to keep in sync with the Commodity Exchanges in Chicago and in New York. He relies on the other institutions he trades with to be truthful and this allows him to have confidence in the trades he makes on behalf of his employer, J.B. Swift and Co.

Are you seeing the missing link yet?

The world of work is a world of......

Here you go - the missing link in this article is - 'ta-da' people! No matter what we do for work, we are all in the people business. And, people need trust in order to work their best with other people.

It is the relationships we forge — and the trust we create — that matters most to our success at the end of the day.

Relationships count

To succeed as a business, it is essential to assess the quality of relationships across the organization—from leaders to employees, employees to leaders, employees to employees, and employees to customers. Do the individuals in all of these groups honor and respect one another, or are they neglected and considered unimportant?

You should be able to see, hear, and feel when trusting relationships exist in organizations. A healthy organization is full of people who:

  • Are loyal to one another. They keep their word and honor their journey.
  • Never judge — seek first to understand.
  • Laugh with (not at) others.
  • Take issues directly to the source. They don’t talk behind others’ backs.
  • Express genuine appreciation up, down, and across their organizational structure.
  • Help others with critical tasks. You don’t hear, “That’s not my job” in a successful organization. You hear, “We’re in this together.”
  • Recognize that people aren’t problems—problems are problems. People who have been hurt sometimes turn around and hurt other people. They need to see beyond the hurt and help others instead.
  • Smile frequently. People should leave work better and happier than when they arrived.
  • Don’t start sentences or thoughts with, “What’s in it for me?” but with,“How can I help you?”

Quality of promises

Strong relationships are based on trust. Organizations can build a culture of trust by cultivating honesty and integrity in workers’ interactions.

Here are five questions to ask that will help to measure the quality of a company’s promises:

  • How committed are team members to keeping their obligations?The answers to this question are generally evident: When leaders and employees make and keep their promises, they see strong trust and respect across the organization. If they frequently make commitments but fail to keep them, they see frustration and self-serving behavior.
  • Do employees hold peers accountable for their commitments?In an environment of trust, people are free and have the confidence to be direct and assertive when promises are missed, and quick to thank others when they’re kept.
  • What happens when circumstances cause people to fail to keep commitments?Ideally, the promiser should update all stakeholders who are affected so that they know well in advance, and should do all that they can to move to an appropriate and acceptable “Plan B” or even enlist the stakeholders in helping them arrive at a mutually acceptable “Plan C.”
  • Do team members consider promises to customers to be no more and no less important than their promises to peers?Think about this closely. If it is easy to forget a promise to a co-worker, it is just as easy to neglect a promise to a customer as well. The continuum runs in both directions, wherever you are.
  • Is everyone at your organization willing to forgive themselves and one another? Sometimes it’s easier to forgive others than it is to extend that grace to yourself. We all need to learn to smile at our shortcomings and forgive our own follies, day to day, as you work to continually grow and succeed.

The foundation of trust will permeate every aspect of a company: the people, the products they produce, and the corporate culture. That is why trust has to be a non-negotiable trait.

Steve Marshall

About the Author: Steve Marshall

Steve Marshall coaches, consults, and facilitates for clients.

With over 35 years' experience in revenue and organizational development, strategic planning, leadership coordination, and managing change, Steve comes to the table with real-world skills and deep insight.

Steve has led building and capital expansion campaigns at hospitals, colleges, and large non-profit associations. Steve worked for three prominent national consulting firms and for himself in on-site, supervisory and executive capacities. His work has included revenue and organizational development work for national, regional and community projects and involved hospitals, medical centers, educational institutions, national and community-based organizations.

To Steve, living has been all about the experience – lots of them in the military, adrenaline sports, education and the health care world. Coupled with his lifelong curiosity about most things that he doesn’t know, Steve feels uniquely qualified to comment and ask lots of questions. His quest is to make things the best they can be, to see more people tap their untapped potential, and to create workplace environments where all that can happen.

Steve enjoys life to the fullest, with his wife, two children and two Golden Retrievers. He served on numerous boards in Washington and Colorado, assisted in the creation of the Fort Collins Bicycle Retailers Alliance and is thrilled to see Fort Collins become the 4th City in the nation to achieve Platinum designation as a Bicycle Friendly City from the League of American Bicyclists.

See Steve's LinkedIn profile for more details