Is Your Organization Trustworthy?

Most people do not pay attention to trust in their organization until it is broken.  But by then the damage is done: people withhold facts and information, managers set convoluted goals, management is not available, people talk behind each others’ backs, etc.  The list goes on and on. 

Part of the reason may be that people see trust as a “nice to have” cultural issue to work on once you have everything else in place. This is a fundamental mistake because the level of trust in your organization is a hard-edged economic driver that will impact just about every aspect of your organizations performance. 

Author Stephen M. R. Covey, in his book The Speed of Trust  describes this impact as either a high trust dividend that can add 40% to your organization’s performance or a low trust tax that can subtract up to 80% by adding to your costs. .

This dividend or tax impact occurs because trust is the ultimate determining factor whether individuals will be good team players, will make the commitment to change, and will work beyond minimum requirements to achieve desired outcomes.  

What’s the trust level in your organization? 

All relationships, personal and professional, are based upon trust. And there is a big difference between the way people work together when they trust each other versus how they work when trust is low or nonexistent. When employees who work together trust each other, they exert more effort in their jobs and expend less effort monitoring each other. This leads to increased productivity, lower costs, and greater satisfaction for workers as well as shareholders.

3 thoughts on “Is Your Organization Trustworthy?

  1. I agree that trust is an under-valued commodity in the workplace. I think an employee’s perception of trust is shaped by 5 critical leadership behaviors (credit goes to our colleague Dr. Drea Zigarmi for categorization of these behaviors):

    1. Create and communicate the organization’s vision – people need to know where the organization is headed, which allows them to compare the actions of their leaders to the organization’s values.

    2. Foster a personal sense of fairness – people in the organization need to have the security that everyone is treated fairly.

    3. Cherish change agents/whistle blowers – retribution for speaking out ruins any sense of trust whereas valuing your change agents cultivates an environment of trust and openness.

    4. Build in checks and balances re: access to information and decision making – when information is shared openly, it creates an environment where trust can blossom.

    5. Ensure procedural fairness – Research indicates that employees who perceive that the organization does a good job regarding procedural fairness have a greater willingness to accept decisions, have trust in their leader, are more committed to the organization, and exhibit good organizational citizenship behaviors.

  2. Randy and Dave make interesting points about trust in organizations. Randy underscored the important fact that trust is really built (or eroded) on a one-to-one basis.

    No matter what the organizational vision is, if I don’t trust top leadership the vision doesn’t matter much to me.If I don’t trust my immediate supervisor I will probably be looking for a way to get away from him or her – either inside or outside of the organization.

    I would be interested to hear what others out there think. Can an organization build trust or is it really only people who can build trust?

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