By Steve Moran

I belong to a Nursing Home Administrator group on Facebook and came across this post . . .

“I just accepted an administrator position at a facility that just had 3 IJs. They will be cleared before I start. They basically all relate to improper abuse reporting. I’m told the staff have no confidence in management to keep them safe or run a successful business. What’s your best advice for me going in?”

It was a great question and I started to write a response but wrote this instead . . .

The Trust Factor

Trust is the hardest thing to figure out in any organization and the easiest thing to destroy. There has likely never been a time in history where this is more true. We live in a society where we are primed to be easily offended and to get outraged when we are.

We see politicians, businesspeople, thought leaders, and even clergy behave in untrustworthy ways.  

Yet . . .

For all that, mostly we want to trust others. We want to trust our family members, our friends, our co-workers, and our bosses. In fact, for us in North America, at least, trust is our default mode, even when we think it is not. This is the exact reason why when trust is broken, it hurts so badly and does so much damage to any organization. 

Fixing Broken Trust

The good news is that broken trust is fixable and it is likely easier to be fixed by a new leader than by the previous leader or leadership team who broke the trust. Keep in mind that it takes time, there is no simple, fast fix.

Here is the framework for fixing trust:

  1. Admit the Problem There is nothing like admitting that you and/or the organization blew it. The first step is saying, we are going to fix the problem. This recognition validates there was a legitimate reason to distrust. 
  2. Accept Criticism Particularly the unfair kind. The first cousin to breaking a promise is not listening to concerns, complaints, and suggestions. It is easy to dismiss them or think that the complainers don’t understand (and sometimes maybe they don’t). But when they are dismissed, the message they receive, and rightfully so, is “I don’t trust you”.
  3. Misunderstandings Sometimes what happens is that a team member will hear something from a leader and misunderstand what is being said or asked, which leads to distrust. This is always the fault of the leader and needs to be fixed.
  4. Overcommunicate Talk about everything with the team. Talking about problems and challenges will pull the team together more than sharing happy, positive stuff. I know I don’t have to say this, but talking about problems means leadership has to own those problems. It is never okay to throw a teammate under the bus. 
  5. Talk About Your Progress The biggest part of this is simply asking how you are doing without being defensive. If you can do this and just take what comes your way with grace, you will get to where you want to be . . . need to be.

This is really hard stuff, don’t get me wrong. It is asking you to go counter to everything anyone ever wants to  do. The rewards, though, are huge.