I'll be the first to admit that building trust in the workplace is a difficult thing. At the end of the day, everyone who works at the school is accountable to their family. But during the day, we are accountable to our students and to our colleagues which makes for a very interesting dynamic.
So at Utopia High School, (not an actual school!), as Principal, (not my actual position!), here are three keys I would focus on to build trust.
1. Trust the professionals in the building to do their job.
The reality is- jobs in education are hard to come by. We've all been at the job fairs enough to see how many people are ready and eager to enter the classroom. Teachers are respected professionals who each took unique paths to reach their position, but did so with an abundance of education, hard work, and passion for their craft. As principal, I'll trust that teachers will do their job as professionals. That's not to say we won't hold each other accountable for our work. But we shouldn't work in a, "got ya," environment. We should inspire and motivate, not supervise and dictate.
2. Model your trust in others.
Personally, I struggled writing this, so I emailed my #SAVMP mentor Tony Sinanis for some advice. You know, the Principal in New Jersey who I've never met, just started tweeting with, and generally know little about. He only emailed me back a novel of advice, gave me his cell phone number, and shared some heartfelt anecdotes from his life. I trusted Tony from my very limited interaction with him through twitter. He trusted me using the same criteria. He told me to write as if I were the Principal of an ideal school, and finally my fingers started typing.
Somehow, I think interactions like these serve as a model to others that trust happens from the beginning, and is solidified in future interactions. If we show our staff how much we trust them, and we place our trust in others as a model, I think we build a culture that breeds faith in each other.
3. If this is empty, this doesn't matter.
Obviously the first "this" is your heart, and the second "this" is your head. It's embarrassingly awesome that I reached back to the movie, Jerry Maguire, for that one. I will build the trust I want people to have in me by leading with my heart. I will earn the trust of the community by showing compassion for our students and our staff. I will lead with the best intentions for everyone in our school community. An ideal team builds trust together with a shared passion and desire that comes from the heart, not always the head.