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VOL. 39 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 9, 2015

How to avoid destroying trust in the workplace

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Company culture can make or break a sales team.

Sales leaders have seen promising sales representatives start off strong, then plateau and ultimately burn out more times than they can count.

Tough days of rejection in the field are challenging to overcome and are major contributors to the high attrition rate associated with sales positions.

Sales representatives need a strong sense of connection and purpose to recover from those tough days and rebound with a driven, winning attitude.

Building trust is key to building this kind of workplace culture.

Unfortunately, many communication practices we’ve been taught result in misunderstanding and conflict.

Consider making these adjustments to help your good intentions result in meaningful, positive change:

Stop ignoring break-up behaviors. According to noted relationship expert Dr. John Gottam, four communication qualities that predict a couple will break up are criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling.

These qualities are not necessarily symptoms of unhappiness, but the instigators of trouble. When we choose these behaviors, we pick up the hammer and pick and actively chip away at our once rock-solid trust.

The next time you observe conflict within your team, ask everyone to clear their heads and ask themselves these questions.

  • Am I being critical instead of uplifting?
  • Am I being defensive instead of moving the discussion forward?
  • Am I showing contempt rather than owning up to what I feel insecure about?
  • Am I dragging out the conflict by stonewalling?

Stop sandwiching all feedback. When you sandwich feedback, you place the issue at hand between two compliments.

While the compliments may be true, this method is painfully transparent and leaves people feeling manipulated. If you always serve up feedback as a sandwich, you risk diminishing the value of everything you want to convey.

When you have issues, talk about them directly. When you have praise to give, provide that recognition in a conversation unrelated to a problem.

Think of feedback as a running balance, and deposit two dollars for every dollar you withdraw. Organizational development expert Dale McCoy puts it this way: “Two treats for every whack.”

Stop venting on the sidelines. When we express frustrations solely on the sidelines rather than directly and respectfully, we become focused on fueling the issue rather than on achieving a resolution.

Encourage your team to ask questions like, “Why have we done it this way in the past?” and “What is at risk if we try a different approach?” when they have concerns over something brought up in a staff meeting.

This kind of transparency builds trust and can make your meetings more valuable and productive.

Strong workplace culture doesn’t happen overnight, but small meaningful changes can help you build an environment your team will want to come back to every day.

Jenny Jo Smith, training and development strategist at RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.

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