I don’t know if you listen to Andy Stanley’s leadership podcasts or not but if you don’t it is a great resource for church leaders. In this podcast he talks about how trust impacts a church culture.
Anyone who has ever listened to Andy knows that he is a great communicator and addresses many of the challenges church leaders face every day.
One of his recent podcasts titled, Trust vs Suspicion is a great teaching on how to steer a church employee culture toward trusting that others are doing the right thing and encouraging employees to demonstrate behaviors that warrant trustworthiness.
We know that trust is important in all organizations, but it is also one of those things that is difficult to measure or define. When trust is ingrained in the organization, daily operations run smoother than when a culture of suspicion exists.
Often there is, what Andy calls a gap, between what happens in a work environment and what was expected to happen. How we respond to this breach, and what we place in that gap, determines the culture and impacts our relationships.
These gaps very often happen because we are all human and sometimes life events impact our ability to perform at expected levels.
But the way we intentionally respond to these gaps is what determines if we have a culture of trust or suspicion.
An example that Andy gives is when someone is late for a meeting and we make the judgement as to whether the person has a good reason for being late or if we place judgement on that person for not showing up on time.
Effective leaders work to build a culture that gives people the benefit of the doubt. In this type of culture leaders assume the best in people instead of the worst which results in employees feeling safe when they make mistakes.
But it also encourages employee behaviors that correct mistakes and bridge those gaps.
However, when an employee creates the same gap time and time again there needs to be a conversation about employee performance to eliminate that gap.
When we have the conversation with the employee we need to assume that there is information that we are missing (trust) instead of assuming the worst (suspicion).
“When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing more than the pursuit of truth in an attempt to find the best possible answer.” Andy Stanley
We need to be deliberate in believing the best in others and to fill the gaps with trust instead of suspicion. Very often there are things going on in an employee’s personal life that can impact their behavior at work.
When leaders support employees through personal challenges they can oftentimes help resolve those issues and ultimately bridge those performance gaps.
We know that we need to trust others but we also need to demonstrate our own trustworthiness by owning gaps that we create.
For example if we know we are going to be late for a meeting, we need to let others know that we are going to be late. When we take responsibility for the gaps that we create and fix our mistakes we demonstrate our own trustworthiness.
By giving people the benefit of the doubt you ultimately create a culture of trust where employees feel safe in admitting and correcting mistakes. And isn’t that what we are striving for?
How would you describe your work culture – trust or suspicion?