Job love relationship hack #2: trust
Trust starts with truth and ends with truth
One of the most critical attributes in any relationship is trust. Yet when I look around, I see so many examples of organizations operating without trust:
- Churn and inefficiency
- Headline-grabbing scandals (SNC-Lavalin, Google, Facebook and Volkswagen)
- Pressure to perform and rising tension bringing out the worst in people
- Bosses who micromanaging
- Loads of rules, red tape and heavy regulation
The power of trust
Magic happens in organizations when there is a high level of trust. Trust builds brand value, because it is inextricably linked to integrity, which is today’s ultimate brand attribute. Also, when management trusts workers and workers trust management loyalty is built, collaboration is possible, decisions are easier, and the speed of execution increases dramatically. This leads to increases in performance and profitability. According to research, a one standard-deviation increase in trust is associated with an approximately 30% increase in firm size. In my humble (but expert) opinion, you can’t afford not to build trust in your organization.
To create job love and build a successful organization, you need to build trust. Unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to destroy trust is with poor internal communication (trust me, I’ve seen it many times!). Here are four rules that will make sure you build trust instead of destroying it:
1. Start at the top
Trust starts with the CEO, the C-suite, and must be demonstrated at every level (yes! right down to managers on the front lines). Internal communications professionals should be working with leaders to help them connect with employees. Sometimes we need to have difficult conversations with leaders to insist on authenticity and to help them understand that being real and human can build trust. For example, leaders can send a powerful message by admitting failure or mistakes, which it’s not easy to do.
Establish trust as one of your company values.I personally believe every organization should have trust as one of their key values. When you have trust as a guiding principle it changes everything. But you can’t just stick a poster on the wall and call it a day! You need to bring the value of trust to life in your corporate storytelling and woven into all communications in order to make it real for people. A very long time ago, the President at the company where I worked started every town hall with a simple slide that listed the corporate values. Trust was at the top. When it came time to decide whether or not all staff should be allowed access to a new thing called the Intranet, the management team decided to grant everyone unrestricted access that would not be monitored – why? Because of trust.
2. Insist on authenticity
The communications landscape has changed and there are higher expectations when it comes to open and honest communication. The workplace is no exception yet 30% of millennials think their company’s internal communications practices are not working because they are self-serving or dishonest. Internal communications must speak the truth – no spin, no glossing over the difficult details, no pigs with lipstick! This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for positive messages, but you have to be open and honest. Tip – resist softening messages. Inevitably, the message gets distorted and leaves employees thinking that management is hiding something, which of course breeds fear and a lack of trust.
3. Tackle issues head on
Have you ever worked in organizations that seem amazing from the outside but once you are inside the building the story is much different? There is rumbling under the surface, but no one is brave enough to acknowledge them. No organization is perfect. Yet so many organizations drive forward without actively seeking to uncover hidden issues or systemic problems. It takes a lot of courage for organizations to open up and be vulnerable enough to admit their weak or blind spots. Ignoring issues that are festering under the surface can have dire consequences when they boil over, and you have a mass exodus of people.
Make sure you are listening and involving your people, constantly seeking to understand their frustrations and challenges can help you understand your weak spots. Once you understand them, have the courage to acknowledging your weak spots and work with your people to address them. This will not only build trust but also make you a stronger and healthier organization in the long run.
4. Increase understanding
Suspicion is hard-wired into our brains – it’s a survival instinct. The people we don’t know and the things we don’t understand might be a threat. To increase trust, you need to help build understanding and relationships across the organization. Communications can accelerate this, again with storytelling that breaks down silos, by organizing events and opportunities for people from different locations and departments to interact and connect.
Got trust issues? We can help you rebuild trust and in the process help you build an organization that attracts awesome people and thrives in today’s complex world.