Three Keys to Restoring Trust

| by Shannon Williams

Trust. It is a simple word with enormous implications.

Trust is the foundation of every relationship of every genre—personal, professional, spiritual, transactional. Without trust you have nothing.

I had the privilege of working with a staff team recently that has endured a lot of personnel changes over the past two years. This group clearly likes one another and was very comfortable with each other. There was a healthy dose of playful teasing throughout our time together.

As they have weathered the personnel changes there have been new sets of expectations placed upon them as individuals and as a team (at least they perceive these expectations as being new).

Our session was designed to help give them a common language and confidence that they have the skills and expertise to meet the goals set for them. As we worked through the session, we stumbled upon the hurdle that has been holding them back—trust!

We were talking about cultivating donors and prospects and moving them through an intentional process to bring them closer to the organization. We went on to discuss that when it comes time to invite a prospect to invest in the organization, it is important to know who is the best person to actually ask for the gift. We agreed that sometimes, you as a staff person may be the one who has stewarded the relationship, maybe even introduced them to the organization, but there is someone else—the executive director, a board member, another key volunteer who actually is a better choice to ask the prospect to invest.

I went on to ask the team if they were comfortable with that, and this is when the hurdle popped up. One of the staff members said, “I don’t mind having someone else ask if they are the right one to do it, but I feel like if I don’t make the ask, I won’t get credit.” In that moment I realized that through all the changes, the trust of this staff had been shaken.

They have watched other staff members come and go, and they question whether allowing someone else to close a deal that they have essentially brokered up to the close will leave them vulnerable in their performance evaluations. Fair enough.

It is clear that trust must be restored for this team. There are three essential keys:

  1. Time—trust does not happen overnight. It is earned through a series of consistent behaviors.
  2. Commitment—this organization and its leaders must commit to the process of intentional stewardship and cultivation, recognizing that many people will be (and must be) involved in the process.
  3. Affirmation—a willingness to celebrate ALL who play a role in the process—not just those who close the deal. Affirmation will be a big part of restoring trust for this team.

I trust (pun intended) that this team will get over this hurdle and build a renewed trust and confidence in one another. I also believe that with a firm commitment to a strong stewardship and cultivation process they will reach beyond the expectations that have been set. And ultimately, success will breed even stronger trust and confidence!

Is trust a hurdle in your organization?



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