Frank Sinatra popularized a song with the lyrics: “Love and marriage, love and marriage,
Go together like a horse and carriage. This I tell ya, brother, you can’t have one without the other.”
This song typifies communication and trust. Communication and trust are essential partners as a horse and carriage and love and marriage. You cannot have effective communication without trust between associates; likewise, you cannot develop trust without straightforward communication from each party.
When a baby comes into the world, it learns to trust its mother or father by responding to the words, tone of voice, facial expressions or gestures of the parent. As the child grows and the child-parental communication is more clearly understood, the child realizes the parent’s protection and love. That understanding builds greater trust toward the parents as the child grows to maturity.
Honesty builds trust, and leaders must exhibit honesty with subordinates about expectations and goals. Like a parent, management is there to lead and protect, not to impose punitive rules and regulations. Leaders and associates must have open communication with one another in order to build trust and develop a greater bond for goal completion.
Babies and young children look to the parents for help, honesty and security; employees on any job are no different. When there is danger, a parent is there to warn the child and communicate that warning effectively before an accident or tragedy occurs. Leaders in positions of responsibility are essentially doing the same thing for people in their charge. If employees put trust in their leaders, they too can avert unforeseen difficulties or unnecessary problems.
Leaders have a responsibility to listen and be open to other solutions to issues from their associates. The old expression, “if you want to know how the job is done, ask the person who does it,” applies here. Since they are the people who routinely and professionally do their jobs, subordinates should feel the freedom to advise management about issues of concern or about any pitfalls that will occur as a result of change in procedure. Management must keep an open mind and an open ear to what people have to say.
While leaders are responsible to communicate to build trust, employees should communicate to their superiors as an act of trust. Subordinates must trust their leaders enough to share personal or professional concerns with their leaders and to provide their own ideas as alternative solutions.
Employees can be confident and learn to trust when management is listening and responding to solutions or concerns. They must believe their ideas are being accepted and considered, whether or not the action they propose is implemented.
Bringing It All Together
Honest, straightforward communication, consistent behavior and open dialogue all work to create trusting relationships. Leaders must make a concerted effort to build that trust. As employees develop trust in their leaders, they also develop confidence to use initiative, keep the communication lines open and become more passionate about their work. The more trust is developed, the stronger the communication link becomes.