The 4 forms of trust or confidence in management

- What is your main concern in your job at the moment?
- It has to be my manager's lack of confidence in the way my work is organised!

This answer might seem scripted as it has become so common in organisations, yet it mirrors the one I was recently given by a manager to describe his professional problems.

The issue of trust or confidence is central to discussions and is closely linked to meaning and ongoing transformations.
Because confidence or trust, which is both powerful and fragile, determines the foundation and strength of all human relationships (with ourselves and with others) and of cooperation.

The issue of trust is everywhere!
Behind commitment, involvement, investment, work or performance... there is always trust!

According to the sociologist Georg Simmel, trust is a positive assumption about the future conduct of another (or of an organisation) - impossible to predict and fully know - with a view to more productive cooperation.
Combine this with the many linguistic subtleties of defining trust and we soon become confused.
When I run training courses for managers, many of them point out the complexity of trust.

I therefore invite you to look at the four ways of expressing trust or confidence in management which underline the importance of reciprocity in establishing a relationship of trust and remind us of the importance of "management based on trust".

1. Self-confidence

This expression refers to one of the many facets of self-esteem. It describes the ability of an individual to believe in his or her ability to act effectively in significant, incongruous or destabilising situations.
It presents a major difficulty since it involves us personally and is determined through our actions, so it can be seen from the outside.
If you have heard this phrase before: "I don’t think he/she is very confident", you will know what I mean.

It is not easy to be self-confident when it implies a degree of vulnerability towards others!

Actions also mean the risk of failure, since an action may or may not be successful.
Self-confidence also means being able to accept the possibility of running into difficulties, to deal with them and to learn from them.
Forgive yourself and forgive others.
Managers, now is the time to examine your background (education, culture, family and social environment, etc.) to better understand the foundations of your self-confidence.
If you want your employees to feel confident, don't forget to adapt what you say and more importantly what you do. Proof by example is still the best way.

2. Inspire confidence

Do you naturally give the impression to those around you that you are a reliable person?
You must certainly “inspire confidence”.
"To inspire" is to create a feeling based on tangible as well as implicit elements.
As a manager, micro-signals (face, attitude, gesture) and signals (words, actions) over time are all elements that can convey a positive image, one of trustworthiness to your audience.

On the other hand, think about your employees: What gives you confidence in each of them?

Such questions, based on tangible criteria, will allow you to take a beneficial step back and if necessary reassess your general feeling about them.

3. Trusting others

In my opinion, this term underpins two complementary aspects and qualities expected of a manager: courage and vulnerability.
The courage to trust others and to recognise them as trustworthy, and the vulnerability to depend on them.

Have you ever wondered about your level of trust in others?

Do you really trust your employees?

How much credibility do you give them and based on what criteria (knowledge, expertise, etc.)?

How do you express them your trust?

Remember that putting trust in another person can hinge on two attitudes: trusting and being trusted.

If "having confidence in someone" relates to the notion of dependability (relying on, trusting) linked to cognitive intelligence (thinking, facts), "trusting" is more likely to refer to the notion of emotionality (feeling trusted, creating a sense of trust) linked to emotional intelligence (emotions, secrets).
Your employees will probably expect both from you. You should therefore be careful to share with them and give them proof of autonomy (depending on their degree of maturity) as well as offer them genuine proof of recognition and honour the secrets and other agreements (implicit and explicit) made with you.

4. Restoring trust and confidence

This has been a challenge for many organisations in the wake of the Covid crisis.
Indeed, the urgency of the situation has led to a high level of employee involvement in order to cope with exceptional conditions (changes in work organisation, freezing of bonuses, freezing of recruitment, etc.). An implicit undertaking that was not given time to be translated into clear expectations.
Although employees "played along" in the first few months, the persistence of the situation is not without difficulty for their managers today.
In departments where there has been a major shift towards strategic savings, the room for manoeuvre for many managers has been reduced.

Many employees feel that their expectations have not been met or that they have been disappointed.

Consequences: a breakdown in trust (sometimes already very fragile) with organisations and a crisis of internal trust.
As a manager, the balance of 'give and take' with your employees can be upset and you need to focus on addressing the things left unsaid as well as the facts in order to restore your employees' trust.
Remember, transparency and sincerity are your allies! There is no need to embellish, to manipulate situations and messages, or to become something you are not, as this will inevitably lead to a loss of credibility and therefore trust.
Of course, the same applies in both directions, and you, together with your employees, may need to think about what (realistic and achievable) means you have at your disposal to restore trust in the team (including yourself!).

Trust or confidence is crucial in management, where it is an essential step towards achieving a common and, in principle, shared objective. Many variables (commitment, involvement, etc.) are directly related to this.

Team or project managers must therefore evolve in a continuous balance with their management, their peers, their clients and especially their employees in order to turn trust into an ally; otherwise they run the risk of numerous disagreements or an irreparable and detrimental crisis of trust.

Trust (and its fragile durability) can only be achieved by creating a two-way dynamic: manager-employee and employee-manager. Facts as well as emotions must be incorporated into managerial thought and action. All these elements make the daily tasks of managers more complex.

With Ask'n Get by ARANSI, "the managers' everyday companion", we support the development of managerial skills through experience and bring together the 3 pillars of knowledge (theory), expertise (practical advice) and interpersonal skills (contextualised implementation) in one place.

Did you like this article? Leave a comment on our posts.
Do you want to learn more about the issue of trust with Ask'n Get by ARANSI?