I am afraid of my cat.  When I confess this to my friends, I see them chuckle. Because a cat is supposed to be a gentle, laid back and purring. So Lowie, that’s his name, is not. When I want to move Lowie from one room to another I gather all my courage to pick him up. Afraid of unexpected maneuvers and his sharp claws cutting ruthlessly through my skin to the point of bleeding. One time everything goes well, the next time it has a bloody ending. His cat brother, Sloeber, was completely different. The children regularly put him in the doll’s pram and ran around the house with him. He sometimes slept in with a puppet tiara on his head. Yes, we could even wipe his nose with a handkerchief. But Lowie… no. That is something else. Our cats come from animal shelters and have an eventful past. So where is the difference? The answer is: trust! And while I take a funny example from my pet, trust is crucial in organizations and often underpinned as a cause of suboptimal collaboration and performance.

Trust is a broad, interpretable concept. Often vague and personal. Because what I understand by trust may not be the same for you.  The good news is that there is a lot of research and literature studies devoted to it. These studies push five concrete elements by which you make or break trust and I like to thank THIAGI-group for their insights: I’ll explain them briefly:

  1. Selflesness: the degree of focus on and support for the other person. This includes hidden agendas and the perception that the other person genuinely has your best interests at heart.
  2. Predictability: do the other’s actions follow a pattern? Are the actions reliable and do they mean what they say?
  3. Authenticity: how creditable is the other person? To what extent is the other person honest and does he show it in his behaviour?
  4. Relatedness: there should be a connection between the parties. A positive relationship gives the other 4 factors a solid boost.
  5. Know-How: to what extent does the other person have the knowledge and skills to successfully complete a task?

Do you want to work on trust in your organization? Then take stock of the five down-to-earth factors. Where is it good? Where could it be better?

Oh yeah…looking at my cat…there’s still work to be done on predictability. Because the behaviour of purring and clawing at the same time…they don’t go along.