Facing the distrust among employees, customers and others that exists in many, if not most, organizations is hard work for leaders and communi- cation professionals. We know that it’s important for these stakeholders to trust us, but we often fall prey to the myth that there is little we can
actually do to build it.
But high-trust organizations—those whose stakeholders indicate greater confidence in the organization, its leadership, its products, etc.—are more likely to perform better financially, are more productive, and have fewer ethical and legal abuses
than their lower-trust counterparts. That’s why it’s imperative
that we work to build that trust among stakeholders. Indeed,
the future of the organization depends on it.
While building organizational trust is complex, there are
specific, intentional actions that you can take to make it
happen. Here’s how.
1. Face the challenges
Trust is not a given, and there are countless incidents and
scenarios that can erode trust among employees, partners
and customers. Certainly a lack of integrity or openness in
senior leadership is one of the most obvious examples—from
financial misrepresentations and data breaches to personal
misconduct—but there are other, less noticeable challenges
to trust, such as globalization, downsizing, reengineering,
even new competition and rapidly changing technologies.
Identifying the specific challenges to trust is the first step;
communicators should regularly work with top leadership to
identify and assess challenges in their organization.
2. Profile organizational trust
After you’ve pinpointed the unique challenges your organization faces, the next
step is to develop a “trust profile”—a snapshot of how people view your company.
IABC-sponsored research has identified five drivers of organizational trust:
• Organizational competence
• Openness and honesty
• The ability of stakeholders to identify with the goals and values of the organization