COD alum talks with students on trust and psychological contracts



Photo courtesy of The Chaparral.

Former COD student and faculty member Dr. Brent Felstead spoke at College of the Desert for COD Talks Wednesday, Dec. 5. Dr. Felstead took the opportunity to discuss his research regarding Trust and Psychological Contracts with students, a topic that has determined to have an effect on an organization’s bottom line.

Dr. Felstead opened the COD Talks event by describing the importance of trust in a business or organization. He stated that a positive relationship between a manager of an organization and their employees is vital to the success of that organization. As such, a manager must work to maintain two things: organizational trust, and psychological contracts.

Dr. Felstead describes organizational trust as a strong degree of faith between the manager and their employees. Subsequently, the psychological contract between a supervisor and those working for them is described as an unwritten set of expectations of the employment relationship.

Organizational trust has been found to be positively related to psychological contracts statistically. The relationship between the two factors makes it doubly important that a manager is aware of them and their significance in the workplace.

“If any employee believes that they are being treated unfairly, their psychological contract has been breached,” Dr. Felstead said.

Dr. Felstead then went to describe the results of research that he had conducted, where he found that when employees believe that promises are not being met, they are more likely to report negative changes in mindset. These changes included decreased perceived obligations to their employer, lower citizenship behavior, decreased job satisfaction, and lower productivity.

Maintenance of organizational trust can be done in many ways. According to Dr. Felstead, there are five different components of organizational trust — competency, honesty and openness, concern, reliability and identifying.

Competency is seen as important because an employee will not be able to trust their employer if they do not view them as capable of performing their duties. Similarly, the concern is paramount because an employee must be aware that their employer is concerned for their well-being, both inside and outside the workplace.

Reliability, on the other hand, is essential because an employee must know that they can trust their employer to follow through on their decisions. Identifying is an important aspect because an organizational culture must be created where the values of the organization are upheld and the organization itself is trustworthy in the eyes of the employee.

However, honesty and openness, Dr. Felstead stated, is most important. “Being open and honest goes without saying,” Dr. Felstead shared. “This goes both ways. [Trust], it’s hard to get back when it’s lost; especially if it’s a manager trying to regain trust with an employee.”

Overall, Dr. Felstead states that the preservation and upkeep of positive relationships in an organization is something to be kept in mind by both the manager and the employee. Although the manager is responsible for presenting a favorable organizational culture, its maintenance is the responsibility of both parties involved. Subsequently, trust must be upheld by every part of an organization to promote a strong sense of security and loyalty and all.

COD Talks is a monthly program at College of the Desert that is modeled after the TED Talks series. Every month, COD invites an exceptional person from the campus or surrounding community to share their story.

These guest speakers are all experts in their given fields, and COD strives to provide a wide range of topics to appeal to the diverse interests of students and faculty. For more information on this event, contact the Office of Student Life at 760-862-1389.

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