Can a mindful approach help to build trust at work?

I was disappointed to read that the latest research paper from the CIPD presents a damning picture of British productivity which continues to lag behind the powerful economies of Germany and the USA, despite British workers complaining that they have never had to work so hard.

The CIPD discovered that a critical factor leading to this was a lack of trust between the leaders and workers in our organisations. This finding is not new: several previous reports have underlined the vital link between employee engagement and a person’s immediate line manager. Trust is a difficult thing to define: it can mean different things to different people; it is often very intangible; and it can be very fragile and easily broken.

As coaches, we look in depth at how to build trust: is it based on empathy and positive unconditional regard for the coachee? Or is it deeper than this: based on understanding and being comfortable with our own selves in order to truly connect with others without the disruption of ‘our own stuff’ getting in the way? I recently attended a course in Mindfulness and have to confess about being a little sceptical before I went: the concept seems sensible – dumping your own stuff and freeing your mind from distractions will make you more effective. However, in today’s busy world, how do we manage to get to a point where we can do this? And it is one of those things that is a ‘good intention’ without being really possible? I came away feeling energised and recognising that it really DOES work: it just takes a different approach and a little practice but is totally do-able within the context of our busy lives.

I reflected on the way home that if we could all become just a little bit more mindful in our daily activities, switch off the continual inner voice and really focus on others, we would build trust much more quickly. And perhaps if managers can learn to do this too, we would begin to build a better foundation to encourage commitment and growth for the future.