Just when we thought things were getting better…
According to the 2015 annual Edelman Trust Barometer Study, the business world is experiencing an evaporation of trust across all kinds of institutions, reaching the lows of the Great Recession in 2009. Trust in business specifically is below 50 percent in two-thirds of countries, including the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan. Trust deficits are so significant that they’re hindering organizational innovation and progress.
The worst thing is, we don’t trust our own people any more than we trust outsiders. And when leaders don’t trust their employees and employees don’t trust their leaders, all sorts of bad things happen. In a study last year, for example, The Forum Group found that organizations with low trust experienced less productivity, less engagement, and greater turnover.
How can we increase trust? One of my favorite reads in the last five years is Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust. In the book, Covey defines the following 13 behaviors as a great place to start:
Communicate clearly so that you cannot be misunderstood. Preface your discussions by declaring your intent, so you leave no doubt about what you are thinking. Don’t manipulate people, distort facts or leave false impressions.
Freely demonstrate fairness, kindness, and civility to all, regardless of what they can do for you.
Be real and genuine and tell the truth in a way that people can verify. You can establish trust quickly by being open and authentic, erring on the side of disclosure, and having an open agenda.
Make restitution instead of just apologizing. Don’t deny or justify wrongs because of ego and pride, and don’t attempt to cover up mistakes.
Give credit to others and speak about people as though they are present. Don’t disclose others’ private information.
Define your results up front. By establishing a track record, making the right things happen, being on time and on budget, and not making excuses, you quickly restore lost trust on the competence side.
Continuously improve. Others will develop confidence in your ability to succeed in a rapidly changing environment. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them. Develop formal and informal feedback systems and respond to them.
Tackle the tough issues head-on. This facilitates open interaction and fast achievement, and also allows you to engage the creativity, capability and synergy of others in solving problems.
Outline specifics upfront. Always discuss and reveal expectations, and never assume they are clear or shared. Renegotiate if necessary, but don’t violate expectations once they have been validated.
Hold yourself and others accountable. Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility, and be clear on how you’ll communicate progress.
Genuinely understand another person’s thoughts and feelings before trying to diagnose or advise.
It is the quickest way to build trust in any relationship. Make keeping all promises the symbol of your honor.
Be a trusting leader to those who have earned it. Don’t extend false trust by giving people responsibility without the authority or resources to complete a task.
What do you do to build trust among your teams?