062: Building Trust with Dr. Michelle Reina

By September 19, 2016Podcasts

 

Dr. Michelle Reina discusses how to build trust among team members and why it’s so important that we do so.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The three key components that define trust
  2. What trusting and untrusting behaviors look like in practice
  3. What you can do to identify trusting relationships and develop ones lacking in trust

About Michelle

Dr. Michelle Reina and Dr. Dennis Reina, cofounders of The Reina Trust Building Institute, are leading authorities on helping leaders build, rebuild and sustain trust to produce business results. Over the last 17 years, their research and consulting practice has supported such organizations as American Express, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Toyota, Walt Disney World, US Army Chaplaincy, US Dept of Education, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, Harvard & Yale Universities, and many others. Their bestselling work, Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace won the 2007 Nautilus Book Award and the 2008 Axiom Book Award. Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace was awarded the 2011 Axiom Book Award.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Michelle Reina Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis 
Michelle, thanks so much for being here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Hi, Pete. Thanks so much for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
 
I’d like to hear maybe if you could start us off, get us a little bit warmed up by sharing … When it comes to this trust building stuff, maybe a real life example so we know what you’re saying when you talk about trust of a… Maybe how a team was in a not so great place and how you intervened and what happened to that team afterwards?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Sure. Sure, I’d love to. A story that initially comes to my mind when you asked that question is a story of a team that runs the operation center for a very large global airline. At the time that I first met them, the team had a very significant IT initiative that was dramatically behind schedule and when something like that is behind schedule it has some pretty significant cost implications and the team, they were just stuck, Pete. They were not operating at their best level. Every single person of the team was highly skillful and capable and talented, but when they came together they were having a hard time collaborating and working in alignment. Rather than functioning at their highest level of capability that the lowest common denominator had become the norm.
At the onset, the first step that the team took is they all had to make the decision that they were going to go to work on trust. When a team makes a decision to go to work on trust, they’re really making a decision to go to work on strengthening their relationships with one another. Because trust is about our work in relationship with one another, so the decision to go to work on trust meant that together, we’re going to learn about trust. This team rolled up their sleeves and they engaged in a series of working sessions that were co-led with their leader. That’s how serious they took it, that leadership actually got involved in the process of helping the team to become more aware of what trust meant and what behaviors actually contributed to trust and how did team members practice these behaviors that supported healthier levels of trust.
Their first step was to learn about trust conceptually, was to get on the same page in terms of what it meant. They learned a model of trust. We have a model of trust that’s called the three dimensions of trust. They learned a model of trust and equipped themselves with a language to be able to talk about trust. They learned core behaviors that built trust and then they took the bold step, Pete, of actually assessing how they were practicing those behaviors with one another. That requires quite a bit of courage to take the concepts of trust and lift them off the pages and put them into action and take a courageous honest assessment of how we are practicing these behaviors in our work with one another.
What that did for this team is it helped them to do two important things. One is it helped them identify their strengths and to hone in on what they were already doing well that supported teamwork and collaboration and trust. Then, it helps them to pinpoint very specifically the behaviors they needed to go to work on together. They made commitments, they formulated agreements, and they rolled up their sleeves and they went to work on learning how to strengthen those behaviors with one another. As a result, the whole level of trust with their team increased and they were able to deliver that major IT initiative on time and within budget.

Pete Mockaitis
 
That’s cool. Since we didn’t use their names, I guess we can dig in a little bit.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
 
What’s an example of maybe a non trusting behavior or norm they had going on versus the sort of new behaviors that happened afterwards?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Great question. When there were breakdowns and collaboration, when people didn’t have the information that they needed when they were disappointed or frustrated with one another, these were issues or concerns that got dealt with in back channel conversations. There was a fair degree of talking about one another behind their back, going to the boss and complaining about one another, making a lot of false assumptions or accusations about one another, pointing their finger at one another, blaming one another. What began to turn around is when there were breakdowns or there was disappointment or let down or frustrations, team members made an agreement and a commitment to learn how to go to one another directly and to put their issues on the table in front of one another and to learn how to work those through and use feedback as a tool, not as a weapon to make each other wrong. Not as a weapon to judge or criticize one another but feedback as a tool to support one another, to grow and develop. The area of feedback and the area of working through frustrations and disappointments together was one specific area they went to work on.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Thank you. When you talk, we’re going to be using the word trust building a lot. Could you offer a definition of that? You mentioned three dimensions of trust, what are those and how do those work together?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Oh sure. There are three dimensions of trust. We often refer to them as the three C’s because all three dimensions begin with the letter C. The first is trust of character. What that means, Pete, in our relationships with one another, we build the trust of our character when we do what we say we are going to do. We keep our commitments, we honor our agreements and we all understand what is expected of one another. When those behaviors are in place, we’re building that trust of character.
Another dimension is trust of communication. We’re all building trust of communication and that is present when we’re open and honest in our communication with one another. That sense when you’re in a meeting or you’re in a conversation with one another and you kind of get this feeling that somebody’s holding back. There’s another opinion or point of view that they have. You can sense there is something they are not saying, or you can sense that somebody may be telling you or telling others what they think you want to hear rather than what is really their point of view. Or, I think we all are familiar with the presence of gossip, what happens in organizations when people are talking about one another rather than directly to one another. Those are examples of things that cause the trust and communication to break down. The trust of communication in that second dimension is high when those channels of communication are open and honest and people feel safe to try new things and take risks and make mistakes and admit them and learn and grow and develop from them.
The third dimension we call trust of capability. That’s built, that’s earned when we lean in on and leverage and utilize and recognize one another’s skills and abilities and knowledge and core gifts and strengths and talents involve one another. Think about it Pete, when you’re in working relationships with people and somebody asks your opinion for something or involves you in a decision, how does that feel for you?

Pete Mockaitis
 
It’s good so long as it’s not a huge request that takes all my time. They think I’m really smart and have something to offer, I’ll say thank you for asking. I’m glad to do it.

Dr. Michelle Reina
an acknowledgement. When we acknowledge others, we’re building trust in that relationship.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Yes.

Dr. Michelle Reina
We call it trust building because it is a process of building and we’re building trust when we are setting clear intentions for ourselves, when we’re getting internally grounded in our intentions for showing up in our relationships with others. We’re thoughtful and we’re mindful and we’re conscientious in our behavior. That’s what builds trust in relationships is the way we show up and we behave. It’s an ongoing process. It’s not a one time deal. We’re building trust day to day in all of our interactions with the people that we work with. By the way, those that we live with, because it’s trust building in all facets of our lives. It’s one of the things that actually brings me the greatest amount of joy and satisfaction in my work with people is when they say to me that what they’ve learned about trust building has helped and supported them in their relationships at home as much as with their relationships at work.

Pete Mockaitis
 
That is good. Thank you. Now I guess I’m curious. It feels good, trust, seems warm and pleasant.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Mm-hmm

Pete Mockaitis
 
You had a cool case study with the IT folks. I imagine from time to time you bump into some folks where this is all touchy feely, I don’t like this. Could you maybe link a bit some of the results associated with having higher trust really does mean higher performance.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I’ll return to the example that I used a little bit ago about the team of the operation center of a large airline as they continued on their trust building journey because they continued to focus on learning how to strengthen the way they behaved with one another and strengthening their relationships. Several months down the road, they moved into a whole strategic planning initiative for their next budget cycle. They estimated that the games and efficiency and effectiveness as a result of them having taken trust to a whole new level resulted in a one million dollar savings in their strategic planning efforts.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Excellent.

Dr. Michelle Reina
This whole aspect, you asked me gosh, do people ever say it’s touchy feely? All the time. I’ll never forget a conversation that I was having with a surgeon. This gentleman was a very, very well known surgeon and an expert in his field. He also happened to be the CEO of a very large well known academic medical research center. When you think about a surgeon, this is work that is very tangible. Talk about very hands on. I’ll never forget the day he said to me, I used to think that trust was very touchy feely and was the soft side. I’ve now come to understand it really is the hardest part of leadership. It is the hardest part and it is the part that will drive the greatest results.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay. Strong endorsement there. Cool. I think I’m recalling, Davis back in episode 7 did some work with the forum corporation and kind of determined that in fact, organizations who want to sort of go fast in terms of get a lot of stuff done and produce a lot of output really did have high trust and had to invest in getting there first. Is there data and research along those lines that you’re well familiar with?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Yeah. Absolutely and there’s specific examples and additional results that I can offer. It is about how does trust create greater efficiency and speed and effectiveness and also how it supports the health of the culture in supporting change and transition. As an example, there was a manufacturing plant that we began working with. This was a manufacturing plant that was part of the twelve plant network. When we began working with them, their production volumes were below standards. They had talented people and they had a committed workforce but they were not aligned and on purpose and their volumes were below standard.
The leader, the leadership team, and eventually engaged all members within this very large plant, they went to work on strengthening their relationships and building trust and connecting trust building to expectations and performance and standards and how they worked together. To make a very long story short, a year and a half later, Pete, they had moved from the lowest producer in that twelve plant network to the number one producer in that twelve plant network. It’s an example of what happens when trust is present. Everybody rises to their highest level. There’s that jazz, there’s that vibe, there’s that can do attitude that just produces very significant results. When trust is vulnerable or broken, that lowest common denominator becomes the norm, everything becomes harder and results do suffer.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay. Understood. I’d love to hear maybe some additional clarity in terms of what, maybe some acid test or ways we can see, do we have trust here or do we have no trust here. Do we have medium amount of trust here? We have some assessments. Can you tell us what are some tell tale signs or indicators, you said something about gossip, you said something about feedback. What are some of the others?

Dr. Michelle Reina
It’s very interesting, I just had a conversation before this conversation with you, I just had a conference call. One of the things that the leaders on this call were talking about as kind of an acid test indicator that there may be some work to do. It’s about how do people deal with disappointment? How do people deal with expectations that are not met? Do we tend to assume the worst? Do we tend to jump to the conclusion when we’re quick to assume the worst or move into judging or blaming or finger pointing, that’s a sign that trust is vulnerable. When people are withholding information or not highly responsive to one another, it’s a sign that trust is vulnerable. When mistakes are made, what happens when a mistake is made?
I remember working with an organization where the CEO had asked us to help him understand why their R&D efforts were behind schedule and so sluggish when he had this talented group of people. How is that possible that we have these amazing people that are so knowledgeable but our R&D efforts are sluggish. In that organization when people tried new things and made a mistake, they felt that they were looked down upon. When we don’t feel it’s safe for us to make mistakes, or when we don’t feel it’s safe for us to be human and to miss a step from time to time. That’s an acid test that trust is not present. When trust is present and we make mistakes, we catch one another. We back one another up. We help each other learn and grow and benefit from those mistakes.
Another acid test is that whole aspect of who are we looking out for. When trust is present, people are focused on what they can do to help one another, how we can help each other to be successful, how we can help one another advance and achieve our goals and objectives when trust isn’t as present, people are more focused on themselves. They tend to be a bit more self serving and they may be caring and holding their own agenda. There’s a bit more of that attitude or that stance of what’s in it for me versus what can I do to be in it with you and for you.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Gotcha. Thank you.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Sometimes it’s very subtle, Pete, and sometimes it’s not so subtle. There is an energy and a feel and a vibe when trust is present and there is a different energy and a tone and a vibe when it’s not.

Pete Mockaitis
 
I’d like to hear if some folks are listening and thinking hmm, I recognize some of the not trusting indicators there in my environment and my workplace. Other than hiring a consultant like you, what are some of the steps that professionals can take day in day out to build trust or to address a lack of trust?

Dr. Michelle Reina
I think that the first step is that we can all tune into ourselves. The first step is we can all tune into our own outlook, our own attitudes. As a specific example, quite often any of us can be waiting for another person to take the first step. We might be looking for how another person may show up, what actions they may take, what comments they may behave. We may be considering gosh, can I trust them? The first step we can take is to tune into ourselves and to consider and to know that trust actually begins with each and every one of us trust begins with me, trust begins with you. It begins with our attitude, our outlook, our beliefs and our own behavior.
The first step is to grow in our own awareness and to reflect on our own behavior and to consider and honestly check in with our selves. How is my behavior aligned with trust building? How am I managing my agreements when I commit to something and I am not able to deliver how do I respond? Do I pick up the phone and call the individual and say, “Hey, I got thrown a curve ball and I’m behind schedule. I know I promised to get this to you by 5:00 and I’m having a hard time making that. Can we renegotiate?” How honest are we in terms of expectations and in terms of what others are expecting of us and what they can expect from us. There is that aspect of how it begins with us, Pete, and our own awareness and our own behavior. That’s the first place that I would encourage people to go.
In terms of tools and resources, we’ve got a book that I would love for people to be able to tap into. It’s written for them and full of tips and tools that people can utilize. There’s a self directed aspect that each and every one of us can take in building trust in our life and our relationships.

Pete Mockaitis
 
That’s great. Thank you. What are some of the watch outs or mistakes that maybe we make perhaps even unknowingly that damage trust? I think in some ways activities like gossiping is kind of clear. Don’t do that, that’s going to diminish trust. What are some other things that maybe we don’t even realize we shouldn’t be doing?

Dr. Michelle Reina
I think that a big one is for us all to be aware of when we may tend to sweep things under the rug. You’ve heard me mention a couple of times the word agreements and you’ve heard me mention expectations and you’ve heard me talk about decisions. Those are just a few of the behaviors. You’ve heard me talk about feedback. The vast majority of time that trust is broken, it’s when there have been small subtle infractions that are unintentional. We may forget to include somebody in a conversation or I might forget to ask somebody’s point of view on a particular decision or I may forget to CC them on an email and it was important for them to be in the loop. It’s really important when we recognize, there’s been a misstep, oh gosh, I dropped something off or oh gosh, I forgot to follow up or I’m behind on a deliverable. Rather than sweeping those under the rug or ignoring them and excusing them away, we take a huge step towards building trust when we just simply acknowledge it and put it out there on the table and redirect it.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Very good. Thank you. You mentioned feedback a couple of times. Are there any particular perspectives, guidelines, tips for delivering feedback in a positive way that builds trust?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Yeah. There are, actually. The first begins with doing our own inner work, getting ourselves ready. In giving feedback, feedback can be challenging for any of us. We all can feel a little bit awkward when we’re going to sit down and give some feedback or we can feel awkward when we’re being asked for feedback or awkward when we’re receiving feedback. In sitting down and giving feedback, what I often find the most helpful thing to do is first tune into our self and set our own intentions and get internally centered and grounded on what are one’s intentions for providing the feedback. When our intentions are in the highest best interest of the relationship in supporting growth and development, that’s a step towards building trust. The first preparation is setting those internal intentions.
The second, Pete is I find it very helpful to ask permission and to extend an invitation and to let our colleague know that we’d like to have a conversation and either give some feedback or ask for feedback and ask permission. Would they be willing to engage in that conversation and then to create a time and a place. A time that works for both parties and a place, a special environment that’s conducive for the conversation that has some privacy and supports the kind of conversation that’s going to unfold and that’s the space that’s identified by both parties.
Then, as the conversation unfolds, I find it helpful to set the context and to further establish why we’ve invited that individual into this conversation and what we’re looking for and to acknowledge that individual and to share what is appreciated about that relationship and then to surface what the issue or the challenge is and the struggle is in a way that can be very specific and provide a specific situation so that it’s putting out there on the table what the strain is and what the struggle is and then to identify that as an opportunity that we can work on together and invite this person to brainstorm potential solutions that the two of us can work through together.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay. Good deal. Thank you.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Pete, I find it always in feedback, in giving feedback, again, there is that setting the intentions, asking the permission, setting the context and talking about what the issue and the struggle is and what’s hard. There’s also, I don’t want to lose sight of that piece that not only acknowledging what works well in the relationship and what one appreciates about the relationship. There’s looking at it from both sides. We’re not just focusing on the problem or the struggle or the deficit, we’re also acknowledging what is currently there that is appreciated. In closing the feedback conversation, there’s always the gratitude and the capturing of what has been understood and learned and gleaned and the sense of appreciation.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Cool. Well then, is there anything else you want to make sure that you put out there before we shift gears and go into the fast phase?

Dr. Michelle Reina
I think that trust is such a cornerstone of relationships and it’s something that we all need and we all want. I have this fundamental belief that we all deserve it. When it’s present, we all know it and when it’s absent we all know it. The last thing I just want to offer is that it does require work, Pete, it’s not something we can ever take for granted. It’s something we always need to keep front and center and work on as part of our approach to life and our relationships with other people.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay. Thank you.

Dr. Michelle Reina
You’re welcome.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Can you share with us perhaps a favorite quote?

Dr. Michelle Reina
I can. This is actually a Persian proverb that I love. It’s “when it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

Pete Mockaitis
 
That is fun. How about your favorite study or piece of research or experiment?

Dr. Michelle Reina
There is a recent study that my own company has just completed that I’m finding myself really glued to. What we’ve identified are three key behaviors that are most needed for teams and leaders to practice particularly during periods of change and transition and they are the behaviors that are least practiced. What we most need are what we are least getting. I’m finding myself really steeped in that piece of research.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Can you share with us those three quick bullets that we should do?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Sure. The one is when there has been a breakdown or a disappointment or a breach of trust that we need to talk directly with one another about it rather than everybody else. When there are issues or concerns that the team members are surfacing them directly, those are huge. When there’s an incident of betrayal, a breakdown of trust, how do we respond and where do we go? The second is the issues and concerns and the third you and I have touched on during this call is feedback. The whole aspect of addressing betrayal and breakdowns of trust and surfacing issues of concerns and utilizing feedback as a constructive tool for growth and development, those are very powerful behaviors that when they are present build trust and help to manage change and deepening engagement and at the same time, Pete, these are the behaviors that in our study of over 120 teams and over 500 leaders are the least practiced.

Pete Mockaitis
 
I see. Thank you.

Dr. Michelle Reina
You’re welcome.

Pete Mockaitis
 
All right. How about a favorite habit, something that you do that’s boosted your effectiveness.

Dr. Michelle Reina
I meditate. I have found that to be invaluable. A daily practice of meditation and off and on I’ll take little mini pauses throughout the day and do a mini meditation. Sometimes it may be one minute or three minutes but I find that to be invaluable for me.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Thank you. How about a particular gem or nugget or quote or something that you share that really has your client resonating and taking notes and responding?

Dr. Michelle Reina
It’s something we chatted a little bit about but it’s trust begins with you.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Trust begins with you. When I say you, I mean me, you, any of us. It begins with us taking that first step, trust begins with each and every one of us.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Okay. What would you say is the best way to find you if folks want to learn more or reach out?

Dr. Michelle Reina
I would say our website which is at www.reinatrustbuilding.com.

Pete Mockaitis
 
All right. Do you have a final challenge or parting call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Dr. Michelle Reina
Yeah. I do. We’ve talked about building trust in the way we think, our attitude, our outlook, our behavior, how we show up and our relationships with other people. Not so much of a challenge as an encouragement and it’s under that umbrella of trust begins with you, I would really like to encourage those who are listening to our conversation to trust in themselves and as they deepen that trust in themselves, to know that they are in turn, deepening their trust and relationships with others. It really would be trust in yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
 
Fun. Thank you. Michelle, thanks so much. This has been really interesting and eye opening and I think a lot of folks are going to kind of recognize a little bit of room for improvement in their teams and this will make a world of difference. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Michelle Reina
Thank you, Pete. I appreciate being with you.

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