Building Trust is like growing Sea Monkeys

Updated: Apr 8


“Trusting you is my decision. Proving me right is your choice”

This sort of ‘punch in the guts’ quote is just the right level of straight talk that I love when I’m talking about Trust.


Because Trust is a fragile thing.


Do you remember Sea Monkeys? Back when I was young you could buy this powder that you put into water and grow little creatures called Sea Monkeys.


The box showed little creatures swimming about, wearing crowns and having a fat old time.


Well, Trust is like a Sea Monkey; it takes effort, the right environment and time to grow, it's hard work to keep alive and takes only seconds to kill.


Trust also takes an age to repair. If it can be repaired at all.


According to the 2021 Edelman"Trust Barometer", COVID-19 has served to increase the level of trust Australians have in their employers to an all-time high.


Employers are now seen as one of the most trusted institutions in Australia, with 78% trusting their employer over business generally (63%), government (61%) and media (51%). Among respondents in Australia, employer attributes including: keeping workers safe (+45 points), regular employee communications (+44 points), job skills and training programs (+39 points) and offering a diverse representative workforce (+32 points) saw increases in importance in the last year. '


My employer' is the second most believable source of information, after government.


This means that for employers, employee trust is theirs to lose in the COVID 'normal' of 2021.


The good news is that the keys to building trust are largely the same as keeping trust alive:


1. Consistent actions

2. Clear, consistent communication

3. Self-awareness


Consistent Action

When building and sustaining trust, actions really do speak louder than words. It’s the consistent actions of an individual that build trust. When someone walks their talk, people take notice. How you show up every day, your reactions and behaviours.


If you say you’re going to take the time each day to engage with your team, do it for a few days then stop, you kill Sea Monkeys.


When you consistently demonstrate respect for your team, engage in open communication and collaboration, AND you do this on a consistent basis until it becomes part of your team’s way of working then you’ve started to create trust.


The master of all things leadership, John C Maxwell says,


“You build trust with others every time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience and honour over personal gain”.


Clear and Consistent Communication

When you are open and clear about how you communicate your needs, goals or company vision, it’s incredible how many doors open and how passions are ignited.


In talking to employees I've heard many stories of teams having daily check-ins and weekly drinks through 2020 so I’m not surprised that our trust in our employers has gone up.


Being in each other homes via our screens has opened up the doors of trust for so many people as we got to know our co-workers on a different level.


How many Zoom calls did you do looking into your boss’s lounge room or kitchen?


How often did a cat’s tail waft its way across the screen?


Or the appearance of a small child or a partner (who was hopefully full clothed)?


This also opened up new conversations about shared hobbies and interests. Conversations we just would not have had without being forced into home isolation.


And here’s that word 'consistent' again. Every conversation should involve you really listening and engaging with the other person.


Self-Awareness

Really this should have been the first key cos great communication and consistent effective action doesn’t happen unless YOU ARE AWARE OF HOW YOU BEHAVE.


Actively seek out what you need to tweak to improve the actions and the communications with your team.


If you confuse communication and collaboration with your tendency towards micromanagement you may still be an arse in the eyes of your team.


You're killing Sea Monkeys.


Without seeking feedback about what you do and how you do it you will never know that there are things you do and say unconsciously that irritate the heck out of your team.


Becoming aware of how you behave is made easier by Behaviour Assessment tools such as the world-class Extended DISC Profiling Tools that I use with all my clients.


Not only does it help me to understand my clients on a deeper level, but it also helps them to really understand why they clash with some people and why they feel empowered by others.


And the best bit about increasing your self-awareness is that you’ll improve relationships with your workmates, housemates, roommates and bedmates, friends and best yet, with your headmate - yourself.




So, here’s your opportunity to take a look at your team and assess the level of trust. What’s missing? Is it communication, consistent actions or is it a lack of self-awareness?


Oh yeah. And if you say, "Oh my team is perfect", then maybe it’s time for you to take a look at your self-awareness.


You might think the team is perfect but you just might also be unwittingly killing Sea Monkeys.


Take Care.


PS. If you want to learn more about Extended DISC and how it can rock your business and your life then try my Mini DISC Profiler or give me a call.


PPS. Holy crap, did you know you can still buy Sea Monkeys?!



Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping people to understand how their behaviours determine their effectiveness and success in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online. She focuses on small business owners and their teams to create engaged leaders and sustainable business growth.

When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.


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