You are here
The Seven Steps for Building Trust during Workplace Restoration
Author: Michelle Phaneuf, P.Eng., ACC, C.Med - Partner at Workplace Fairness West
Workplace Restoration (WR) is an emerging field that focuses on workplace wellness and restoring psychologically safety and health to individual working relationships, team relationships, or organizationally. Restorative practices have a long history and have been used in many settings and situations including schools, our justice system, and our communities at large. The aim of restorative practices is to develop community and to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and building relationships. The underlying focus of utilizing these practices in the workplace is to rebuild trust.
Workplace Fairness International has developed a Five Phase model for undertaking successful workplace restoration (Fig 1). Previous articles have discussed the Five Phase model in more detail. You can access the link here or see below for a more detailed outline.
This article will give the opportunity to focus on how these 5 phases rebuild trust by comparing the phases to an expert model that was shared with me, The Reina Trust & Betrayal Model (Fig 2). Dr.’s Dennis & Michelle Reina are experts in the area of building trust in the workplace and authors of the book - Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace.
According to their Reina Trust & Betrayal Model, there are seven steps to regaining trust. These steps tie very closely with the Workplace Fairness 5 Phase Restoration Model as I have outlined here:
- Observe and acknowledge what has happened. (Phase 1 - Organizing) People need to feel heard. A Workplace Restoration facilitator can paraphrase, help others acknowledge the impact of the situation and ensure everyone feels heard. Healing begins when we acknowledge what has occurred, the effect on employees and the resulting outcome. Educating and coaching leadership during this organizing phase ensures their communication and language about the process aligns with this focus of acknowledgement.
- Allow feelings to surface. (Phase 2 – Assessment) The Workplace Restoration facilitator focuses on providing a safe environment to give people permission to express their concerns, issues, and feelings in a constructive manner. Doing so helps people begin to let go of the negativity they are holding, freeing up that energy for rebuilding relationships and shifting their focus to the future.
- Get support. (Phases 1-5) Rebuilding trust is hard work. People in the middle of a conflict or difficult situation cannot do it alone. They need support to fully understand what occurred, its effects, and actions that are necessary to move through the healing process. It is through the support of the Workplace Restoration facilitator that the betrayal they experienced may be used as a steppingstone for growth, innovation, shared responsibility, and accountability.
- Reframe the experience. (Phase 3 – Reporting & Debrief) Employees should be supported to reframe their experience by looking at the bigger picture, reflecting on circumstances, noticing the reasons for concern, and exploring opportunities that the conflict presents. When developing a report, or Statement of Issues, the Workplace Restoration facilitator uses language to shift the focus from the past (what they don’t want) to the future (what they do want). Reframing the experience also helps employees to understand that although they may not have had control over what has occurred, they do have control over how they choose to respond now and in the future.
- Take responsibility. (Phase 4 – Engagement) People take responsibility when they can acknowledge their mistakes or oversights. They are often ready to do this after they feel heard and acknowledged. The Workplace Restoration facilitator undertakes interventions to enable all parties to come together and have a different type of dialogue. This opportunity for telling the truth, without justification and rationalization, demonstrates trustworthiness and exposes vulnerability. Doing so makes it safe for others to expose their vulnerability, seek support and take responsibility for their own behavior.
- Forgive yourself and others. (Phase 4 – Engagement) Recognize that forgiveness is freedom and is the gift we give ourselves. Anger, bitterness, and resentment deplete people’s energy and interferes with relationships and performance. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or accepting that the harmful act was OK. We can realize that someone has hurt us but forgive them also. The Workplace Restoration facilitator supports employees to foster forgiveness through building understanding and developing solutions that meet all parties needs.
- Let go and move on (Phase 5 – Monitoring). Accept what is so. Acceptance is not condoning what was done but experiencing the reality of what happened without denying, disowning, or resenting it – facing the truth without blame. Once the fourth or Engagement phase is completed the Workplace Restoration facilitator supports the entire organization to move forward and take steps to monitor progress and revisit solutions as needed. This continued support maintains the shift of ‘you against me’ to ‘us against the problem’.
Many employees have experienced the loss of trust with a colleague, a team, or their own organization. A Workplace Restoration initiative utilizes restorative practices to effectively manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and rebuilding relationships. Re-establishing trust during this process should be the focus of all interactions to build a strong structure for a successful outcome.
Workplace Fairness International – Workplace Restoration - Five Phase Model
About the Author: Michelle Phaneuf is a partner with Workplace Fairness West in Calgary operating in conjunction with the Workplace Fairness Institute in Toronto. Workplace Fairness supports organizations in Alberta and across Canada to foster a healthy culture based on a core value of equity of concern and respect. Michelle Phaneuf is a Chartered mediator, Certified Coach, Certified Psychological Health & Safety Advisor and trained Ombudsman who utilizes interest-based tools to bring awareness and empathy to manage difficult situations in a non-confrontational manner. Michelle has extensive experience with public and private organizations delivering change management and conflict resolution services. Through a Workplace Restoration lens, she provides workplace assessments to shift cultures, facilitates teams to reach innovative solutions, and coaches individuals to gain insight and awareness when in conflict.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post belong solely to the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of CPHR Alberta.