Why your business needs trust
What is trust?
In a previous blog post, I spoke about how Simon Sinek refers to ‘Start with why’, an interesting concept about how presenting ‘why’ you do what you do can get people on your side. But at the heart of the ‘Start with why’ theory is the idea of trust. Trust is a feeling of security one has, based on the belief that someone is reliable, good, honest, and effective. Trust is what your employees, customers and clients need so that they can hear your ‘why’ and know that it is the truth.
Trust is critical in any relationship, and is just as true in business. To build a successful business there must be trust permeating the relationships throughout the organisation – between leaders to employees, employees to employees, and employees to customers.
According to the 2017 Edelman trust barometer, the world population’s trust in all four key institutions — business, government, NGOs, and media — has declined. In this climate, “People’s societal and economic concerns, including globalization, the pace of innovation and eroding social values, turn into fears”. This is why building trust in your business is more important today than ever before.
How much trust is in your organisation? In business interactions, we can usually intuitively feel when trust is lacking. Without it, there are the underlying feelings of resentment, undermining, avoiding and game-playing among employees.
I am very well acquainted with one such business; it is a hotbed of gossip; there is an undercurrent of frustration at the management; and rather than unity there is stress and low productivity where fake camaraderie, petty squabbles and backstabbing were everyday occurrences. Does that sound like an environment that puts trust at the heart of its operations?
Trust within an organisation creates a healthy work environment. It forms the foundation for effective communications, staff retention, motivated members, and contributions of energy and, according to studies, there is also significant link to sales, profits, and turnover in organisations with a high level of trust.
How to build trust in your organisation
So, do you think your organisation might be lacking in the trust quota? If so, here are a few things you can do to ensure that trust remains one of the most important features of your business.
Act with sincerity and integrity
Probably the bedrock of trust, keeping your promises will set you up as reliable and dependable. What immediately follows is strong trust and respect. If you frequently make commitments but fail to keep them, you’ll see only frustration and self-serving behaviour – not conducive to long-term successful relationships. Also, offer your true perspective on matters, align your words and actions, and be consistent in your behaviour.
Listen to and act on feedback, even if it’s negative. If colleagues, employees or customers feel listened to they will more likely feel trust for you and your business. Demonstrate caring and unconditional positive regard to others’ point of view, even if you disagree with them.
Handle crisis well
Do your utmost and encourage others in the organisation to turn a negative situation to your advantage by going over and above to handle a crisis effectively, and you will be cultivating trust
Own your failures, and learn from them. Share them so that others can learn from them too. It will help you bounce back better and higher than before.
Encourage ideas and innovation
Be well informed – have views on industry issues, and encourage others to. Put your efforts into finding solutions. Don’t tread water; it’s the fastest way to obscurity.
The way companies communicate has a great deal of influence on the amount of trust employees and clients have for them. Be direct, be spontaneous not rehearsed, be blunt not diplomatic and polite. Give personal experience over data – what does it mean in real terms. Also, make good use of social media – a two-way means of communicating, rather than direct advertising, which is one way and doesn’t give customers a platform on which to communicate their views.
Use your skills and knowledge to support others’ work. Serve all parties’ best interests. It will bolster everyone’s positive regard of you and therefore their trust in you.
How employees create your success
Ultimately, for a successful business you must treat your employees well. They should be at the heart of the business. They are, after all, the people who know the most about your organisation, your products and services and the market. Invest in them regularly. Employees who remain in one place (physically and emotionally) will grow bored and weary.
Employees want to understand why they are doing things, they want to know the difference that they make, and they want to trust and to know that they are trusted to deliver. They will be willing to go the extra mile to ensure that your business goals are met. If on the other hand, they learn that they are not valued and that winning is the ultimate prize, then they’ll begin to think less about trying something new and different and instead focus on self-preservation. The result may be reliable workers, but it will diminish trust and stunt your business’ growth.
Express genuine appreciation up, down, and across your organisation and you will hear your staff say, ‘We’re in this together’.
Trust leads to a happy, productive workplace that can handle anything and will continually move the organisation forward. In these days of inherent mistrust in large corporations, it is important, over everything else you do, to cultivate an environment of trust. It is a non-negotiable facet of a successful business – you cannot have one without the other. In a successful business it is the relationships you forge—and the trust you create—that matter most.
Photo: Ideas Alchemist, Trust