(originally written for Camp Business Magazine)
I’ve been thinking and talking about trust a lot lately. Usually it has come up in conversations I have had about what is the defining element in why parents choose one camp over another. I believe that reason is trust. This is why it is so important for camp directors to connect with parents at camp fairs, in home shows and through electronic media (blogs, social media, email, etc.) because above selling cool programs, catchy theme week titles or progressive skill development systems at camp we are selling trust. Does a parent trust their child with us (me, the camp director) for a week or more out of their life?
My thoughts on trust building with parents started changing to how trust allows me to effectively get things accomplished at work. I realized that trust is the currency I use to get work done with my supervisors, those I supervise and my co-workers. The interesting thing about trust is that we are in a constant effort of gaining and losing trust. Every day I am either making withdraws or making deposits of trust in the bank of those I work with.
With a high level of trust built up between myself and others I can get things accomplished with less pushback and disruption to timelines, but when trust is not there things can slow down because of questions that are asked about motivations, and open skepticism about my work.
How is trust built up and torn down? The starting point of mistrust in many situations is misunderstanding. Misunderstanding can be avoided through clear, constant and honest communication. Another way misunderstanding is avoided is through contact. When we spend quality time with individuals we are able to avoid many misunderstandings because we can know them better.
When I interviewed for my job with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte one of the questions they asked me was, “if you do not supervise individuals how will you be able to get things done through them?” It was an interesting job and an interesting question, but it is the same way you get things done through people when you do supervise them – through building trust.
I am realizing that the only way that I am going to be successful in my career is through my ability to connect with people and to build trust with the people I work for and work with. A layer of trust allows us to work harder, forgive easier and accomplish more. A layer of trust also has ramifications on our efficiencies and cost structure because of time saved by not having to check up on others work. Taking someone at their word takes less time and is more efficient than micro-managing a staff member. This year (and in the years to come) I will spend more time building trust with those around me. I will work to be more trustworthy as an employee and will focus on clear communication and intentional contact with those I supervise to build trust in those relationships also. Please join me in using our currency of trust to build a better workplace.