Career Resilience 3: Culture of trust and mutual respect at work
Can we make it to the top of the tree, or sustain and long and prosperous career, without the active support of others? Can we develop career resilience and thrive without trust & mutual respect?
“Get respect for what you do and at the same time give it.”-Estelle Parsons
Compare the sentiments of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders with those of many middle managers and supervisors; contrast the opinions of those who have ‘made it’ and those who aspire to make it. Most successful people would agree that their success has been a result of vision, hard work and the help of others at key points along the way. So why do so many managers try to go it alone, fear the collaboration of others and try to ‘make it’ at the expense of those around them? I believe it’s the difference between long-term vision and short-term fear.
If it is true that we need the support of others in our careers, then it’ll be equally true that we need to develop a culture of trust and mutual respect around ourselves. What’s more, respect is a two-way street. The respect we receive from others will be proportional, in large degree, to the respect we show towards them. Respect breeds respect; resentment breeds resentment.
So how can we ensure that we share trust and mutual respect with others as we develop our careers? Here are some tips and suggestions on how to build trust and mutual respect:
- Trust others. By trusting our team and colleagues, we form a powerful bond that helps you work and communicate more effectively. When we’re can be open and honest in our thoughts and actions, we’ll find that we don’t waste time and energy “watching your back.” Trust and mutual respect form the foundation for long term career resilience.
- Honesty is the best policy. Over the long term duplicity and deceit will be unmasked and dishonesty will be uncovered. At that point, dishonest people will fall from grace and be excluded. It’s not naive to believe in the truth or to develop a reputation for straight talking. Indeed, this kind of respect endears us to the very highest and most powerful in the organisation. They rely on honesty to keep them on the right path. ‘Yes men’ who peddle convenient truths may be exploited in the short term but they will fail to thrive in the long term.
- Everyone is unique and may come from a different background and upbringing to you. They may do things differently to you. Aim to value and respect their uniqueness. When our friends and colleagues offer different opinions from ours, we can take the time to consider what they have to say, and factor their insights into our decision-making. Diversity of insight and approach invariably lead to more complete solutions and will pay dividends if it is embraced. Seek to understand the diverse culture of others. Understand that their upbringing may bring social and professional differences of behavior and/or priorities. They’re not wrong, simply different. Over time, mutual respect will bring people together in a blended cultural norm for the whole team. It’s this unique culture that provides a sustainable differentiation that can’t be copied. Ultimately you will all be able to say “This is the way we do things around here” and productivity will soar.
- Be Mindful. We communicate all day, whether we’re sending emails and IMs, or meeting face-to-face. The better and more effectively we communicate, the richer our relationships become. Take responsibility for your words and actions. When we are mindful of what we say, our message becomes ‘purer’ in its intent and delivery. We don’t let negative emotions impact the people around us and they will return our good intention with their own good will.
- Speak positively about the people you work with, especially to your boss. Get in the habit of speaking positively to others and providing quality feedback about the people who work with. Be careful of workplace gossip and don’t contribute to it. Build a reputation of trust and mutual respect by shining the best light on every situation. The information we share (whether positive or negative) usually comes back to the person who is being discussed. People will enjoy hearing that you have said supportive things about them and will know that you are on their side. That will build trust.
- Be courteous. The old adage says “Manners cost nothing” …but not having them could cost you everything. Small gestures of kindness will go a long away. Take those extra seconds to say ‘Thank you” or to acknowledge the efforts of others. Even if things aren’t quite right, make the effort to deliver feedback and suggestions kindly. This includes everyone from the cleaner to the big boss. Be famous for being even handed, helpful and kind. It’s much better than the opposite.
- Be kind. Yes, be kind at work. Listen when people are speaking; ask questions out of genuine interest; wait for others to catch up with the key points of a discussion. These actions show respect and will encourage others to help you when you don’t quite get it – and there will be times when you don’t ‘quite get it’ and need the help.
- Show empathy, not sympathy. Let people know that you understand how they feel when things are going well and when they’re not. Celebrate their joys for their sake, not just because you’ve got some benefit out of it. When things go awry, put yourself in their shoes, instead of immediately assuming they are wrong and you are right.
- Share more of yourself . One of the best ways to build respect is to let others know who you are. This can come by sharing your expertise, knowledge and personality at meetings. People will get to know us, like us and want to hear more from us. They will find us more approachable and solid relationships begin. If ever we feel fearful to share at meetings, simply think ahead of time what to say and be more prepared. Preparation demonstrates our trust and mutual respect of others when we meet them.
- Share information. The age old maxim that “Information is power” may have been true in the past but it omits to add that power used unwisely is tyranny. In the new paradigm of shared goals and team-based participation, withheld information acts as a drag on productivity. Information is a common corporate resource that will propel the whole organisation forward. Of course there will always be questions of confidentiality in any organisation but this brings us straight back to the question of trust. Shared goals and common purpose are much stronger for corporate security than a combination lock on any filing cabinet. When we trust our colleagues, we liberate their thinking and help them to achieve the best outcomes for the organisation and ourselves.
- Be supportive and involve others. Seek to get involved and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Get involved in mutual projects and activities. The more we can participate together, the better we get to know each other. We inevitably end up enjoying working with others and in getting more things done. We will form a closer connection because we are working directly with each other to meet shared goals. We will appreciate each other’s support and get to know each other better. All this is vital to creating a more connected working relationship.
As you can see, there is no single ‘silver bullet’ to creating and maintaining an environment of trust and mutual respect. Equally, it’s true that without trust and mutual respect your career will probably stall in the medium term and fail in the long term.
I’ve highlighted just some of the tactics that will help you to develop respect and trust in your career. However, these tactics can only be successful if your intent is based upon your own trust and respect.
If you are interested in learning more about building resilience in your career trough trust and mutual respect here are three steps you can take immediately:
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