Asian Identity | Human Resource Coounsulting Firm

Asian Leadership vol.4 How can we create “Trust”?

January 29, 2017Blog

posted by Jack Nakamura

The other day, one of my clients in Thailand shared a story with me. “I had an argument with my staff and I hurt her feelings unintentionally. Now she doesn’t finish the task that I had asked her to do. The trust between us has broken totally.”

This “how to create trust in an organization” is one the most common topics that I hear from my clients. So today, I’ll pick this topic for this article.

According to Ms. Sue Bingham in Harvard Business Review (*1), 55% CEO are concerned about issues of trust in their business. The following statement also shows how trust is an important management tool, “When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up”. She also mentions that it’s up to the leader to solve issues of mistrust in the organization.

If there’s no trust between a couple, it should be up to the couple whether to fix it or not. But when it comes to a company and if you, as a leader, don’t restore it, it could affect your business performance, which might result in bad results for investors or business partners. Thus, dealing with trust issue is a crucial job of a leader. Then, what should we do? Today I’ll introduce the following four tips.


Disclose yourself

There are two approaches to trust building; Relationship-based and Task-based, which I also mentioned earlier in these series of blogs. According to research by Dr. E. Meyer, in Asian countries, there is a tendency for people to trust each other through a relationship-based approach.

We, human beings, regardless of nationalities or language groups, have commonalities. It is the fact that we are all living lives as humans. If we share information about our lives with each other, we can find something in common, for example, we have the same hobby, or we have the same age group of children, and so on. If you are a manager, sharing your off-business profile of yourself is an effective starting point for trust building, because it will lead to creating a personal connection between you and your staff.

Show vulnerability

Secondly, another technique is to “show vulnerability”. How can we show vulnerability? An example is when, “Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things”. This example comes from the article, “The Neuroscience of Trust” by Paul Zak in Harvard Business Review (*2) and there are several other scientific tips for trust building in this article. If you show your vulnerability to others, that stimulates oxytocin production in others, which will lead to their trust and cooperation in the team.

Showing vulnerability is also meaningful for enhancement of self-efficacy of your team. In general, People have instincts of helping others. As involvement in volunteer activity fulfills our instincts of helping others, the act of helping also enhances our intrinsic motivation. Thus, asking your staff to support you means that you are trusting your staff by believing they have the ability that you don’t have. So, if you want to let your staff to take some desired action by keeping them motivated, just try to ask for help, saying that you can’t get it done by yourself.

Talk honestly (Hon-ne)

The another day, one of my client told me this story.

“My team always came late for work. So I always punished their laxness, every time they came late. But despite this, they never became punctual. One day, I asked everyone what they were thinking about the current situation. Then they replied reluctantly, we are totally fed up, because you are always angry. I promised them not to get angry anymore. As being late for the office is not good, I also requested that they try their best to come to the office punctually. From the next day, they never came late.”

This story tells us the importance of talking honestly. If we talk honestly with each other, we can start to create trust for each other, because we can share the understanding that neither of us have any intention to attack or betray each other. If we can feel secured in the relationship, we start to be more open and trust others.

But Asian culture is high-context, in which we communicate very indirectly. We tend to take a surface communication for not harming others feelings. The leader’s job is to get rid of those superficial communication, and the best way to do that is to trigger the honest communication from yourself.

Open the door from you

This is my last advice. Trust is based on mutual relationship. If you feel that someone doesn’t trust you, it is simultaneously happening that you are not trusting someone. Imagine there is a closed door between you and someone. Who should be blamed for not opening the door? If you might feel that it is his or her responsibility, but the other person has the same idea towards to you. You are also the one who is responsible for the closed door.

It is said that building trust is “advance payment”. If you show some trust in your behavior or action, people will trust you. If you keep an attitude of waiting someone to trust you, trustful relationship can’t be build.

Will you be the one who opens the door first? Or will you be the one who waits until someone opens the door?

●Articles for your Reference:
*1 Reference: “If Employees Don’t Trust You, It’s Up To You To Fix It” by Sue Bingham

*2 Reference: “The Neuroscience of Trust” by Paul Zak

Recommended Post