Improving and maintaining trust is a continuous process. There is a constant flow of items that can be improved, as trust will wear off when it lacks sufficient attention. In order to build and maintain high levels of trust, an organisation has to continue to work on it.
You have taken the first step to improve trust, simply by visiting this page. You are aware of the role that trust plays and the elements that impact it. Having the consciousness that trust matters is the starting point for anyone who is in a position of power over others. Any role where there are subordinates, or where your role might impact the professional ‘job to be done’ for another individual, requires the awareness of trust. These roles are in charge of changing employee trust.
The next step towards improving trust is to measure the actual state of affairs. What are the trust levels within your team, department or organisation? What elements should be improved? Referring back to the trust perception, you will have to make sure that the organisation you are trying to build reflects the experience of your employees. When your best employees leave, it often comes as a surprise to you. The first time you hear that an employee has dreaded to come in to work, might actually be during an exit interview. This can be avoided by regular trust check-ins.
For most organisations there are many things that might have to improve. More specifically, every organisation has things they could improve. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Your first trust measurement should give you a good indication of the main areas ready for improvement. It should not force you to thoroughly map out every single detail of your business that has to be improved. It would be unrealistic to improve everything at once.
The main reason why a trust survey could fail is because individuals think that it won’t affect the state of the business anyways. There is no point spending time sharing your feelings and concerns, only to find out that it was pointless to share in the first place. Especially when you are in charge of the survey, you have to communicate how important this is to you, the leadership team, to the rest of the business, and eventually to all the individuals completing the survey. Communicate what the process looks like, and communicate what will be done with the results. Once the survey responses are collected, don’t leave the results unattended, but keep the teams posted on the status.
Once the trust issues have surfaced and you have shared the survey results, it becomes time to start improving trust. Maybe you could select the issues with the biggest or the quickest win, and implement actions that address these issues, or there might be large issues that require your attention immediately. No matter what you choose, any improvement towards higher levels of trust is good. Communicate what you are trying to achieve in the next time frame, and execute on it.
In order to get the most accurate information on trust, an anonymous way of sharing feedback is often preferred. This creates a confidential, secure way to share experiences. Anonymised data collection provides more of the feedback that we are looking for: honest feedback. Generally, this will be done through an online trust measurement tool, that will provide you with the anonymised data once the surveys have been collected.
Transparency is part of the solution when trust is low. When something is transparent, it doesn’t require trust. Trust is necessary when the outcome is insecure. When the processes are clear, it is not required. Of course, that does require the transparent processes to be enforceable. Transparency removes the need for trust. If something is a fact, the insecurity related to trust isn’t necessary.
Be aware of the role of trust and the role of transparency. In every case where there are immediate trust issues, finding ways to become more transparent is the first item on the agenda. It might be that employees aren’t aware of public information, and the communication has to be improved. It might be that there are pieces of information that are crucial to trust, but haven’t been shared. Finding ways in which you can be more transparent isn’t always easy, as business leaders are often reluctant to share too much. But think about the returns it will generate; a better performing organisation through trust.
When taking your next decision, try to ask yourself how the outcome would impact trust. Revisit the trust elements regularly.
If you decide to measure trust, make sure to do it sincerely. Put a process in place that will continuously improve trust, little by little. Whilst building trust is hard work, you will find that working in a high-trust environment is more fun, and seems easier. You and your company will both benefit.
Did you enjoy reading this article? You will find this, and much more, in our free trust guide. Test your own trust perception and get all the information you need on employee trust. Start the free test and get the guide here.
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Employees will assess whether the organisation has the competencies to deliver.
What is employee trust? It focuses on the trust that employees have in their employer.