Wharton Cuts to the Chase: Trust and Betrayal, Profit and Loss

We just sat down with Dan Loney of Wharton’s @BizRadio111. What a cool guy. We loved talking with him!

Dan asked provocative questions about how trust works in our workplace relationships. Our conversation was stimulating, and we know you’d benefit from listening to it. The catch?

You can only tune in until next Monday, March 28, via this link: http://bit.ly/1RnQ4L1

After Monday, the link will disappear into the archives.

In case you’re slammed and don’t have time to listen to the interview, here’s a few of our favorite moments:

Dan: Two very important words in the workplace seem to be profit and loss. But two equally important words to think about are trust and betrayal. Think about it. The relationships you build in the office can be the key to personal and company success.

 …How big a concern is betrayal in the office today?

It’s a growing concern because people are becoming increasingly aware of the many ways trust is betrayed at work.

Yet, let’s pause for a moment around that word betrayal. Betrayal is a huge word. It’s loaded. For many, it’s still a four-letter word.

Look, nobody wants to think they have betrayal in their organization. The point of view Dennis and I provide is that most often, it’s not the big things that cause trust to be vulnerable in our workplace relationships. It’s the small, subtle, minor ways of behaving with one another. Being late to meetings. Gossiping.

The truth? These little things add up. They don’t go away. And over time, they can create feelings and an impact equivalent to a more significant breach of trust – what we’d think of as betrayal.

Dan: So, this can be a bottom line financial issue to the company over time.

Business leaders are growing in their understanding of what a tremendous asset trust is. They know they cannot get the results they need without it.

Through going to work on trust, one of the leaders we served took a $30 million strategic initiative that was faltering and get it back on track and on budget.

Another leader went to work on ways he was making trust vulnerable in his relationships. And, he guided his people to pay closer attention to how they were impacting trust in their relationships with one another. The result? Together, they took their plant from lowest to highest producer nationwide.

Dan: In some companies, there’s union involvement. There’s a level of distrust that’s baked into the organization. That can be hard to overcome.

Yes, it can be. We’ve worked in those environments, and I don’t for a minute want to minimize their challenges or complexity.

But, when people are supported to drill down to the core human level, they discover they all very much want the same thing. So the approach becomes creating that alignment. Meeting the needs of the business while building simultaneously people’s relationship. The relationships become the avenue and vehicle to get where they need and want to be.

Incidentally, strengthening trust doesn’t just help people in their relationships at work. It helps them at home. Recently, we lead a workshop around capacity for trust. We were helping people learn to expand their ability to trust in themselves and in other people. We took a break, and after the break one of the team leaders didn’t come back….for another 45 minutes.

After the workshop, he came up to us, with tears in his eyes. He said, “I’m so sorry I was late. What we were talking about struck such a chord with me that I had to call my wife. We had the best conversation we’d had in 10 years.”

Dan: Really? So, that’s interesting. It wasn’t a business aspect he needed to discuss, it was a personal avenue.

You know, relationships take work. What we find what’s extremely rewarding and gratifying is when we’re in a business, supporting people with tools and tips and principals around trust….yes, this is in a professional environment, but people gain insight into their relationships outside of work.

Dan: When trust is broken, how hard is it to build back up?

What’s important is that so often breaches of trust do destroy relationships. But if people step in and work through the issues they can not only rebuild trust and the relationships, but strengthen it.

But, they have to – we all have to – raise our awareness. We have to ask, what were the patterns of behavior and dynamics that lead to the breakdown. We have to address those.

There are two partners to rebuilding trust – courage and compassion.

Courage to look in the mirror and acknowledge what is so. What is my part?

And, compassion to cut ourselves an others some slack. And, with that comes forgiveness, which is essential.

It’s a choice point. Any of us can be held back by the pain of broken trust. We can harbor bitterness or resentment. I think we’ve all met people with a chip on their shoulder.

When we choose to rebuild trust what we’re really choosing is to step in and move through. That’ the process of healing. When we choose to move in to the disappointment and move through that, there’s only the benefit and gain. At a bare bones minimum, we’re returned to a healthier space within ourselves. From that point, we’re in a healthier place to engage in relationships with others.

I’ve had so many people share with me, they would never want to relive the breach of trust or betrayal again. Nor would they ever give up the benefit of what they gained. How it influenced who they are today and the insight and understanding and perspective they now have about people, relationships, and life.

Compromised trust can be a gift to us. If we’re willing to embrace it and do the work that comes with that gifts.

Want to listen to the entire interview? Be sure to tune in before Monday, March 28: http://bit.ly/1RnQ4L1

Yours in trust,

Dennis and Michelle Reina

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