- Flickr/Alper Çuğun
Trust takes time to earn, but it can virtually be lost overnight. This is especially true at work.
“It can suddenly bring to a halt your projects, job, and depending on the circumstances, even your career,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”
So you’ll want to know if you’re losing or have already lost the trust of your boss and colleagues, and do everything you can to earn it back.
Luckily, there are tons of signs that you’re not trusted in the office. The most blatant one, says Taylor, is when your coworkers stop relying on you.
“Dependability is at the core of your ability to perform well and deliver solid results. If you’re viewed as reliable, you’re best positioned to secure cooperation; assist, manage, and motivate others; move projects forward; and attain increasingly responsible, leadership roles,” she explains.
Bosses and coworkers make the assumption early on that colleagues will stand by their words and actions, remaining helpful, dedicated, and straightforward. You’re given the benefit of the doubt. Once these tenets of reliability erode, the opposite occurs – it’s assumed, at least for awhile, that you’re “guilty until proven innocent.”
“Past events have led them to believe either that expectations won’t be met or that there will ultimately be too high a price to pay,” Taylor says. “So the prudent direction for many is to look elsewhere, which doesn’t bode well.”
A boss who must to look to the next employee (or themselves) to finish a project on time and on budget – or to apply good judgment – isn’t likely to put up with that dynamic for long, she says. “At first they may micromanage you, but ultimately they may give up unless things change.”
When people stop relying on you, it can be an indication they’ve been let down for reasons other than broken promises, she adds. “Colleagues may feel authority was misused, credit was stolen, there was too much conflict, or that something negative will happen later as a result, undermining their efforts.”
A lack of reliability, however, can be reversed, depending on the severity of what occurred. “The first step is to acknowledge there’s a real problem, which can be most difficult,” says Taylor. “Then after investigating it, it’s critical to be transparent. Address it directly and promptly with those involved. Poor communication and misunderstanding can be at the root of reliability and trust issues – so the sooner you try and remove the ‘dark cloud,’ the better for your job and career prospects.”