Transparency Builds Trust

When I ask young people what they want most from their parents, a common response is,

“to trust me.”

When I ask parents what is most difficult about parenting–they will often say,

“to know when to trust or not trust my child.”

This may also be said of a relationship between a husband and wife, a manager and an employee, a co-worker and a coworker, an investor and an entrepreneur, or a donor and a nonprofit. We want them to trust us, yet many may not know when to trust us, and when not to trust us.

We show others how much they can trust us by our choices; however, we usually speak of choices in terms of behaviors. Do what we say we are going to do, and we invite others to trust us. Don’t do what we say we are going to do, and we invite others to mistrust us. Choose behaviors that impact others positively, and we invite others to trust us. Choose behaviors that impact others negatively, and we invite others to mistrust us.

While this is true, there is another element of trust that is often overlooked, an element deeper than behavior–transparency. If we are open and straightforward with others, taking responsibility for our performance, even when we make mistakes, we invite others to trust us. When we have secrets, in other words when we hide our mistakes, we invite others to mistrust us.

How is it possible to invite mistrust when it’s secret?

As human beings, we have the capacity to sense when others are “up to something.” In other words, when we hide or misrepresent our performance or say something out-of-step with what is true, our behavior lies. Think about your own experiences in life. Have you ever had someone apologize to you when they didn’t really mean it–and you knew it? When we hide things or portray something we are not, others feel misled, and we invite their mistrust.

So, how can we invite others to trust us?

We invite trust not only by doing what we say we do–we invite it through openness about our failures and mistakes. Below are three keys to transparency:

  1. Open access to actual performance (while protecting confidentialities)
  2. Continually measuring, improving, and reporting outcomes
  3. Be the first to take responsibility when things go wrong and make them right

In addition to inviting trust, transparency accelerates improvement; whereas secrecy accelerates program deterioration. In the recovery community they say, ”Secrets are the portal to relapse.” When we are transparent we become accountable and feel a greater obligation to do our best. Others will see how they can help us. Allan Mulally, the former CEO of Ford Motor Company said,

“You can’t manage a secret. People can’t help if they don’t know what the real situation is.”

The truth is, we need others to improve and grow.

Use the Tracart app to set objectives, take responsibility, and build trusting relationships with friends, family members, coaches, advisors, supervisors, co-workers, employees, and customers through regular check ins of failures and successes.