In Part 3, we wrap up our blog series on the High Costs of Mistrust. We may not see the connection between mistrust and these business costs but it’s probably there, to some degree. Most of the Building Trust blog is devoted to practical tips that help prevent these issue in the first place.
Anyone in your organization who is customer-facing must be filled with trust and security, otherwise their lack of confidence (or accumulated bile) will spill into the customer relationship. Buyers have a knack for picking up on these things. If employees don’t have faith in their organizations, it’s like insect repellent: often cleverly masked yet undeniably deadly. Non customer-facing workers who are packed with mistrust are just as toxic to customers but a bit harder to identify. They hide behind ‘reasonable’ arguments since fear prevents them from making waves covertly. Rarely does a Building Trust workshop go by without someone sharing a horror story: “Last week out on the line at least one person, maybe more, let a questionable batch of product go through. After the customer rejected the shipment, everyone here agreed it never should have left the factory. Yet when pressed, no one believed they shared in the responsibility. I drew the inescapable conclusion that it is every-person-for-themselves out there.” This is the definition of mistrust, and guess who paid for it?
There are many reasons for chronic absenteeism but a lack of trust certainly exacerbates most of them. After all who wants to go to work when trust is absent? I know I don’t. If I wake up dreading going into the office to face another day of isolation I might just roll over or call in sick. Companies paying people at home who could otherwise work is yet another undocumented cost in the trust conversation. However, most people today don’t have the financial luxury of taking time off so they gird themselves and go in anyway. The longer this goes on, the better the chances of developing long term problems such as fatigue, headache, chronic pain, and heart disease. Older workers are particularly susceptible: they were taught at an early age to work hard regardless of the circumstances… and they often associate their health concerns with age rather than environmental causes. Thus the costs of healthcare coverage creep up, perhaps needlessly. So whether we stay home or grin and bear it, a lack of trust is expensive.
A cousin to health problems is turnover. Our best people refuse to endure toxic environments and take off for greener pastures. Leaders are often reminded that no one is irreplaceable and this is certainly true. But to recruit and develop a high-achiever only to lose her because of the untrusting atmosphere at work borders on the tragic. Yes, organizations overcome these losses, but at what long term cost to the accomplishment of their mission?
It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up scenarios where mistrust and unresolved conflicts escalate to the point where courts of law are called upon to settle things. In fact the courts are almost a given in some high-stakes situations unless the ability to resolve issues constructively is practiced by all concerned. Lawyers are called when the hope of restoring trust is gone. It’s when we need someone else to fight for our rights. The sooner a problem is dealt with, the less energy and emotional turmoil is involved to deal with it.
We know this but we tell ourselves to pick our battles; we let another day pass without facing the issue or person… and then one day we stare, mystified, at our former coworker, business partner or loved one and let our representative do our talking for us. It usually doesn’t happen overnight; the wall between people gets built one small brick at a time.
If your organization is currently paying one or more of the above 10 costs of mistrust, you’re not alone. The good news is that much can be done to build or restore trust in any group. For down-to-earth ideas and techniques, browse the topics here or contact Bruce directly.
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