“In this hyper-connected and morally-interdependent world, the most important thing we can share is our trustworthiness.” – Rob Peters
What does it look like?
Trustworthiness defines a person in whom you can place your confidence, knowing without a doubt that they will not disappoint or betray you. The virtue of trustworthiness is expressed through four consistent character traits:
How can you practice it?
A study by Robert S. Feldman, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of people lie at least once in the course of a ten-minute conversation, many of them telling two or three lies in that time period. Does this surprise you? Test yourself. Intentionally monitor the honesty in your speech. Take notice of the times you are tempted by, or actually engage in, being less than 100% truthful with co-workers.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Commit to the facts regarding your work, your plans, your relationships with co-workers, your opinions, your promises, your limitations and failures. Let honesty in word and action be your hallmark.
Be honest and caring in all communications.
Do your job thoroughly and to the best of your ability.
Be respectful of due dates and deadlines so co-workers can depend on you.
Make promises that are realistic and deliverable.
Honor the promises you make.
Never disappoint a person by failing to live up to your commitments.
(a virtue in itself, to be covered in a future blog)
Give credit to co-workers for their contributions.
Never take credit for someone else’s work.
Celebrate the achievements of others.
Place the good of the team above your own good.
Take responsibility for your failures.
Apologize when you’ve disappointed or offended someone
Ask for honest feedback from people about your behavior and performance. Encourage them to communicate with radical candor when responding.
Gain the trust of others by being consistent in your values and behaviors.
Respect the dignity and rights of every employee.
Treat everyone the same, regardless of their rank and responsibilities.
Show fairness. Be consistent with rewards, performance reviews, punishments, favors, etc.
Do the right thing, no matter what the consequences to you.
Instill trust in your co-workers that you “have their backs.”
Keep private information private. Do not expose secrets or the personal challenges of others.
Never abandon a person or a project that you are responsible for. (Exception is taken when a co-worker’s words or actions are unethical.)
Never ask a co-worker to engage in or condone unethical practices.
Create a culture where mistakes can happen and are expected. Own your mistakes, especially if you are a leader, so others know you will tolerate theirs.
Forgive minor infractions and give second chances.
What else? We would love to hear from you. Tell us a story and/or add to the list of behaviors that define the trustworthy employee.
When the virtue of trustworthiness permeates a workplace, employee morale, engagement and productivity increase. Naturally, it helps when trustworthiness is valued and exercised from the top down. But remember, virtues do not have to start at the top. You can evangelize them on whatever rung of the ladder you stand. Be the person that everyone can trust!
For more on virtue in the workplace, check out the rest of this blog series.