Catch up on the previous blogs in this 4 part series here:
Trust is not easily won but it can be easily lost. Maintaining trust requires consistency, transparency, and ethical behavior. Trust can be shattered with a single act of perceived betrayal, either directly experienced or experienced second-hand by what happens to others, leading to profound consequences for individuals and organizations alike. In our normative database a mere 57% of survey respondents indicate that they have an open and trusting environment in their organizations. This is consistently one of the lower scoring items in our norms.
Organizations form around specific activities that are difficult or impossible for an individual to achieve alone. Organizations allow individuals to leverage themselves across a broader platform enabling personal and societal accomplishments to succeed. As social beings, our survival and success have depended on our ability to collaborate and cooperate, activities enhanced by trust. Trust acts as a guide when you are coping with the unfamiliar.
Trust also serves as a lubricant for economic transactions. Trust enables trade, investment, and economic growth by reducing transaction costs. When parties trust one another, they are more likely to engage in economic activities, fostering prosperity.
Trust is a component of how an individual relates to an organization, how cynical they are to that organization, but also how two or more organizations, whether they be institutions, government entities, or countries relate to each other. And most of the factors which enhance or erode trust apply universally.
Trust in governmental institutions, financial systems, and societal norms is essential for societal stability. When trust erodes in these areas, skepticism, cynicism, and social unrest often follow. Today, there are elements in society, not just in the USA but globally, looking to undermine trust in individuals, in institutions, and in norms in general. These forces want to sow chaos as a way to gain or hold onto power or to diminish others. How can that be countered? How can you build trust?
Trust is a necessary prerequisite for organizational change and effective day-to-day functioning. Change is inevitable, whether that change is in the form of mission, technology, structure, or process. Without a workforce that trusts the leadership, processes, and the institution itself that change will fail. Within an organization trust is enhanced when the individual perceives:
- Organizational values, aligned to their own, that are explicitly or implicitly stated and then lived by;
- Having leadership that is viewed as effective and knowledgeable, and while 82% of those in our normative database state that they have trust and confidence in their immediate managers, only 70% trust executive leadership;
- Committed, sustained behaviors from the top of the house;
- Alignment of senior management around the goals and operating principles of the organization;
- Clear explanations regarding decisions, and here 67% state that they trust the decisions being made by organizational leadership;
- A personal sense of agency, control over one’s day to day actions and future;
- The individual having a sense of future within the organization, they can see a personal path;
- And that the person feels valued by the organization.
[Read More: Building Trust Within Organizations, Part IV]
Building trust within an organization is not a check the box activity; it requires dedication and hard work, and the principles that build trust must be adhered to each day. To see references used in this series, click here.
Want to learn more about measuring employee trust? We are offering a Trust survey, which can be administered on its own or added to a census survey.
Jeffrey Saltzman is the CEO of OrgVitality, and an Associated Fellow at the Center for Leadership Studies, School of Management at Binghamton University. He is credited with driving technological improvements now commonly seen in the survey industry, creating a business model focused on scientific rigor and business practicality while aiming for bottom-line results. He is the co-author of Creating the Vital Organization: Balancing Short-Term Profits with Long-Term Success, among other books.