C’mon, you can trust me!

Topic(s): trust

Topic: Organizational Justice, Job Performance, Trust
: Journal of Management
Article: The Relationship between being perceived as trustworthy and performance
Blogger: Larry Martinez

OK, so most of the research done on trustworthiness in the workplace has focused on whether or not you think that your coworkers and leaders are trustworthy and the related implications (if you don’t trust your boss you’ll be less likely to perform well for him or her).  But what about the other side of the coin?

Dirks and Skarlicki wanted to know how being perceived as trustworthy effects job performance – the idea being that if your coworkers think you are trustworthy, they’ll be more likely to offer you resources.

Well, that’s exactly what they found, but they broke it down into a bit more detail.  Consider the following two facets of trustworthiness:

Capability:  Do you have the ability to provide resources?

Integrity: Will you be fair and honest (specifically, will you return the favor if someone helps you out)?

The authors found that the interaction of those two variables predicted job performance.  That is, if your coworkers perceive you to be capable and fair, they’ll see you as being trustworthy and thus offer resources to you.  Those resources, which you most likely couldn’t have gotten on your own, help you do your own job better.  This relationship only held for employees who were considered to have both high integrity and high capability; the performance of employees with lower integrity scores did not change, regardless of how high their ‘capable’ ratings

So, in an organization, leaders can focus on the potential performance benefits for being trustworthy (capable and fair/honest).  Training programs
would have to focus on both capability and integrity, since one or the other doesn’t have as strong of a stand-alone effect.