Search on Google for building trust and psychological safety, and you will see oodles of articles on the subject but not so many on restoring lost trust. The issue for me is not so much on building trust in a team but how we restore it when it is lost or eroded. Generally, I would have thought we form trust by agreeing on our shared values then consenting to put them into practice. As I see it, the problem is that people are human, and we WILL fail, at times to uphold our value agreements. What we do after this occurs will determine if we can restore our faith and trust in this person and our agreed values.
Hence, it is the restoration of our agreements that I believe will determine our level of trust for this person and organization. Well, that is my hypothesis. My focus is on the process of restoring our confidence and forming value agreements around how we do that, first and foremost.
Let’s try an example:
Say three of us were in a tense meeting about getting investment, and I spoke up with a radical suggestion. The other two vehemently disagreed dismissing my suggestion, and then dismissing me, labeling me a “loose cannon.”
This happened to us some 17 years ago, and to this day, we have still not fully resolved the dispute (and restored the trust) that this misbehavior caused. Two of us, my brother and I, have agreed that we would tackle the situation much differently now. The third person replied to me recently, saying that he is sure that he would say the same things today. Here is what my brother and I have agreed we would use if this happened today.
We believe that we can restore trust by objecting to this type of misbehavior using a tangible, three-step intervention called Object123.
Step 1. I could have ALERTED or CAUTIONED him for talking me down for just speaking up, and I could expect to receive a simple acknowledgment to prevent our trust from eroding.
However, failure to acknowledge would mean our trust has begun to erode, and restoring it would now require more restitution than a simple acknowledgment.
Step 2. Next, I could give him an official documented OBJECTION and would require a simple apology to restore the trust.
Again, the price for restoration or restitution will increased if he fails to offer this simple apology for his original misbehavior.
Step 3. Finally, I could STOP the discussion, and the restitution required to restore our trust is now an acceptable apology. As an added deterrent for an offender’s recalcitrance our dispute would also be automatically posted onto our dispute social network of peers to be reviewed. Finally, if still unresolved a vote would be taken and a recommendation made by the network.
There would be no need for managers, HR or consultants to get involved in our disputes ever again, especially as more than 30% of disputes are between bosses or managers and their employees. If this procedure to restore trust was tried, tested and successfully applied, I believe it would save billions of dollars globally in lost time, efficiency and recruitment. Not to mention creating a more enjoyable and psychologically safer place to work.