Trust, Leaders, and Successful Organizations
I find trust an essential, but sometimes overlooked, ingredient in businesses success. Thanks to my colleague, Anna Harper, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, for sharing this article from the Harvard Business Review, “If Employees Don’t Trust You, It’s Up to You to Fix It” by Sue Bingham, founder and principal of HPWP Consulting.
As I read this article, I am reminded of one of my favorite leaders. She arrived as a new leader of an organization that was plagued by low morale and trust, disempowered leadership, and disengaged employees. With those challenges in front of her, one of her first messages to her new employees was for everyone to “assume goodwill” of their peers, leaders, and in the organization. She knew this was needed as a first step in rebuilding trust. She continues to model this belief through her words, actions, and leadership.
More and more CEOs are concerned about the lack of trust in businesses, and rightly so. A high level of trust between managers and employees defines the best workplaces and drives overall positive company performance and increased revenue.
Ways to increase trust
- Like my favorite leader did when she arrived at her new organization, “assume goodwill.” Leaders in high performance workplaces expect people to act in the best interests of the company and one another. They give challenging assignments, do not micromanage, and are confident their expectations will be met.
- Make trust an essential element in hiring. Effective leaders involve team members in the hiring process and decisions, including the people the potential new employee will be working with. Peers may think of questions and recognize concerns leaders have not thought of. Value character as much or more than technical skills during the hiring process. Consider asking unique interview questions like, “Please tell us about a time when you put your clients’, coworkers’, or company’s interests ahead of your own.”
- Treat employees fairly, not equally. Always be fair. However, this means things won’t always feel equal. By treating people fairly, leaders send the message that individuality and employee’s unique abilities are valued. When dealing with disciplinary issues, employ less traditional approaches that will increase trust. Have discussions that seek to determine the cause of a problem and enlist employees to identify and act on their own solutions. When people believe their leaders are looking for the causes of performance issues and are committed to facilitating a solution, trust begins to develop to support employees in admitting errors and accepting responsibility in taking actions to solve them.
- Create a Zero–Tolerance Policy for Deceitfulness. High performance companies value trust so much, that they implement and enforce zero-tolerance policies for betraying it. This includes holding management to the same standards as direct reports. If leaders are capable of acknowledging their own shortcomings and accepting responsibility, their teams will trust and admire them for it.
The Short and Sweet of It
It is primarily the leader’s responsibility to regain and/or improve trust in their organizations. By tearing down barriers and making trust a top priority for everyone, leaders can expect loyalty, dedication, and high performance from those who will ultimately determine the fate of their business: their people.
Share Your Building Trust Success Stories
Share your success stories about increasing trust in your organization. We would love to hear them!
To read Bingham’s article in its entirety, visit this link.