Trust is one of those must-have virtues, which we seek out in our close friendships, family ties and even boss relationships. Well, I recently had an eye-opening experience at work that helped me realize this: trust can also help foster – and enrich - a truly great working relationship between employer and employee… or intern. Trust not only ensures that mutual support will present from each end of a work collaboration; it also inspires the confidence that we as interns need in order to try new tasks and excel at completing them.
Let me elaborate: I recently went to one of my overseers at the end of a workday, in somewhat of a crisis. While I had tried to brainstorm on my own ways to remedy the mistake I had made, I felt stuck; I had charged a loyal customer based on the incorrect corporate discount, and this customer was no longer available for me to follow up with or take a different amount of payment from. I felt slightly nervous and somewhat embarrassed of the error, but I also knew that I had to get feedback from my boss on the issue since every transaction is recorded and verified in our internal systems!
When I brought it up, my manager’s response took me aback: “Well Cory, what do you think we can do about it?” Not only did he appear not be mad, but he spun the challenge back to me as a puzzle to solve instead of a mistake to fix. We proceeded to talk about how I had labeled the discount, what had led me to credit the amount that I did, and ultimately I positioned the idea of reversing and relabeling the transaction. At the risk of over-sharing on the details, I’ll conclude that somehow my leader helped empower me to answer my own questions myself.
I recently finished reading Blake Mycoskie’s Start Something that Matters, his retelling of the TOMS shoes creation story and his tips for beginning and maintaining a good business. One of his most emphasized pillars of a cohesive and sustainable company culture is trust; he writes: “The more trust you bestow, the more others trust you. I am convinced that there is a direct correlation between job satisfaction and how empowered people are to fully execute their job without someone shadowing them every step of the way.”
My short story above was what showed my that I agree with Blake’s words: the trust that this manager – as well as others before him! – have put in me makes me feel more able and encouraged to do well at my internships. Imagine the times when your manager has taken a task back from you, or micromanaged each step of a project. That hasn’t done much to inspire your confidence, right? All this being said, it’s then time to earn the trust you’d like them to bestow, and put trust in your supervisors and intern peers as well so that mutual respect is achieved.
One of the best ways to build others’ trust in you is to admit your own mistakes. The role of intern, by definition, permits you to try and grow; the more you are open about what you are still working to perfect, the more supervisors and peers will come to you for that developing knowledge or for execution!
When managing up, another way to earn trust is to demonstrate that you trust in your supervisors. Take their recommendations to heart and trust in the methods they suggest to you, even if you may have alternatives to suggest at the appropriate time. If your boss views that you respect him or her, that same leader should more inclined to return it.
It’s also important to have trust in your peers, so that they will enjoy collaborating with you and trust you right back. Show that you value their work and opinions by giving nice feedback and asking for it; this will encourage them to look to you for support, as you’ve shown that you care to notice how they’re doing rather than focusing solely on your own performance. Finally, bestowing trust upon those at the same level as you at work fits right into the humility piece, which I shared about last time (see Cory’s Law). If you demonstrate that you are open to hearing and learning from your peers, they’ll trust you even more for being genuine.
Until next time…
To building trust, your confidence and that of those around you!