August 1998 / Special Feature : An Issue Of Trust
Trust In Whom
by Peter Block
Emergency Room Physician
Air Traffic Controller
Felicia Seaton-Williams on Trust
Trust is obvious to people, says Dr. Felicia Seaton -Williams sitting perfectly straight in her chair. It either exists or it doesnt. People are able to feel it very strongly, but when it comes to verbalizing it, thats another story.
Trust gives us a connection to other human beings and it is that connection which allows people to feel comfortable with vulnerability. Often when a person feels disconnected from others, it is a symptom of the lack of trust which permeates his/her life. Ultimately, trust should be the extent to which there is confidence and willingness of others to act on the basis of words, actions and decisions and to allow oneself to be vulnerable to the actions of another.
Trust can even be regained or repaired if the lines of communication remain open. Human beings have to be willing to sit down at the table and say quite directly, Look, this is whats going on with me, what are you feeling, do you understand this.
Seaton-Williams has researched organizational effectiveness and restructuring over the past five years at Wayne State University and has found in team and quality-oriented settings, that trust is a major factor influencing communication. It determines whether a team will be successful in their quality product development and product design processes. We can classify different organizations by the power balance of their work groups. Through our work we have really been able to understand the complex dynamics and how they play out in terms of performance outcomes.
There is a different idea of trust in todays organizations.
Beginning in the 1990s, people no longer rely on the one job for a
lifetime rationale which provided a great deal of trust in the employer.
It has shifted to a profession-oriented trust. There is the
notion that people are going to make several job changes over their lifetime
and they want to build a professional tool kit. The focus has become, Tell
me where you have my self-interest involved and where you dont.
They want the trust to be built around all of the learning and growth opportunities
the company will provide to add to their tool kit, and around how the organization
will receive what they have to contribute.