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August 1998 / Special Feature : An Issue Of Trust

Articles
An Issue Of Trust

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash

All You Ever Really Need To Know About Trust You Learned In Kindergarten

Furnishing Trust And Empowerment

Eight Organizational Strategies That Build Trust



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Trust In Whom

by Peter Block
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John Schuster

Cliff Bolster
Joel Henning
Dan Oestreich
Felicia Seaton-Williams
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Emergency Room Physician

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John Schuster on Trust

“The word trust is too broad of a label,” according to John Schuster. “It means many things to many people.”

Individuals define trust differently according to the level of risk involved with particular behaviors. There are different levels of trust an individual has depending on what they have at stake.

Lack of communication between individuals, be they managers and staff, supervisors and subordinates or two friends, can lead to a breakdown of trust. People begin misinterpreting others’ intentions and feel that they may have hidden agendas. For example, when management opens the books containing the financial information, “often, it’s a huge deal,” Schuster says. For organizations with a low trust culture however, even this can create more distrust, as employees look for the “other set of books.”

Schuster offers suggestions for building trust within an organization. Putting management and employees on similar bonus systems helps to create teamwork and concerted efforts within the organization. Employees see that management places trust in the system and therefore employees trust in the management team. When leaders fully disclose what is going on it puts the minds of the employees at ease.
Sharing information in times of crisis also helps to build trust among employees in low trust organizations. Schuster mentions that these types of emotional events pull people together and help demonstrate to the employees that secrets aren’t being kept, thus instilling the idea that management trusts everyone enough to share the information. The employees will become more trusting because they now know that management already trusts them.

“When there is no trust and a lack of communication—when there is a vacuum—people start to make up your intentions,” Schuster adds. “This only creates more mistrust.” In defining trust it is important to also define faith. One cannot have trust without having faith. As defined by Webster’s dictionary, faith represents the sincerity of one’s intentions. “To gain people’s trust you have to have faith in human beings and faith in life,” Schuster says. A cynical person has given up on human beings and fails to see the sincerity in others, therefore, they don’t trust people. Trust is believing and depending on others. If a person lacks honesty and reliability, it becomes very difficult for anyone to give them credit for their word.

August '98 News for a Change | Email Editor
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