When You Are Not to Be Trusted

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

When You Are Not to Be Trusted

Authors Dennis and Michelle Reina have spent decades studying issues of trust in the workplace. A commonly held misconception is that a breach of trust in the workplace has to be serious -- like the CEO committing fraud or a manager being accused of a crime. The fact is that there are breaches of trust that happen daily. Here are five breaches of trust that you probably didn't even realize that you may have been guilty of:

1. Failing to acknowledge a colleague’s efforts:

We’re all moving fast, and sometimes we forget to say “good job” or even the most basic “thanks.” This is more than manners, it’s about respect. One of the subtle and yet insidious betrayals people experience at work is not being fully seen or heard. Not being recognized hurts at an innate level, and it doesn’t take too many missed “thank you's” to add up to deep-seated resentment.

2. Missing a deadline or two:

Life happens and you miss a deadline here and there. No big deal, right? Wrong. Each time you don’t deliver, you are making the implicit assumption that others are available to work around your schedule. You betray trust because someone - your boss, your colleague, your assistant - was depending on you. Each time you miss a deadline, you reinforce their perception that you think you’re more important and that they can’t depend on you.

3. Arriving late for meetings:

When you consistently arrive after the scheduled starting time, you’re breaking trust because your colleagues sense that you’re wasting their time and that you may possibly think that your time and your job are more important than theirs. They end up feeling disrespected, insulted, and devalued. Over time, those feelings define your relationship, and trust begins to erode.

4. Micromanaging:

Most micromanagers are surprisingly unaware that they are micromanaging. You may think you're paying attention to details and being thorough, but those you manage feel that you are watching and just waiting for them to mess up. That’s really how employees experience micromanaging. They get the sense that you don’t trust them to get the job done. And if you don’t trust them, why should they trust you? Trust begets trust. Mistrust begets mistrust.

5. Discourteous, insensitive or rude behavior:

Before your second cup of coffee, sure, you might bark an order or two. And when things get rolling, you lose your temper now and then. Hey, that's just how you are, right? Wrong. Even if you’re nice as can be much of the time, your outbursts may well damage your relationships. You're showing that your behavior is unpredictable and brash. When people don’t know what to expect, they are less likely to trust you.

Have you been on the receiving end up these behaviors? How did you feel? And if you’ve inadvertently acted in these ways, how did you turn things around?