Start with Trust

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
Trust is that invisible force that makes things feel just right, and as we all know, trust is at the core of all relationships whether at home or at work and without it the relationship takes a lot of strain. With trust in your workplace teams are more productive, meetings run efficiently, and you work with autonomy, however when trust is running low, especially during times of change, everyone has an eye on the exit.

A relationship without trust is like a cell phone with no service. All you can do is play games.

In this article, we will be looking at how important Trust is in an organization, as well as give some advice for increasing trust. For some, trust is an experience that is difficult to put into words. Trust is a feeling of:

  • Safety from being able to rely upon a person,
  • Satisfaction from cooperating with and experiencing teamwork with a group,
  • Confidence when taking thoughtful risks, and
  • Clarity from experiencing believable communication.

Is Trust Worth Fighting For?

What’s the return on investment (ROI) to an organization with high trust? Research shows that companies with high trust have greater efficiency, productivity, increased collaboration and less resources spent on organizational chaos. Just have a quick look at the below statistics:

Compared to people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report*:

  • 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 76% more engagement
  • 40% less burnout
  • 29% increase in life satisfaction

*(Data collected in 2016 from a nationally US sample 1095 working adults.)

We can measure the ROI of trust by examining the financial performance of high trust companies. In research that has been done around the world, high trust organizations outperform their competitors and score better profits by a factor of three. In addition to the financial advantage, important outcomes of trust in organizations are:

  • Employees stay and are more engaged (better retention)
  • Creativity flourishes
  • The reputation of the company is enhanced.

Now let’s have a look at 3 Actionable Steps for Leaders to Increase Trust but these can also be valuable when thinking about your own everyday relationships too.

Step 1

As Josh Freedman, CEO of Six Seconds explains that “trust is a two-way street”. Trust is built between people when it is extended and reciprocated. But you can’t just say “trust me” to others and expect to receive it. Josh shares “Leaders need to give trust to others in order to earn their trust.” Staff should also be given the power to take decisions and responsibility for their projects, and trust will develop. This process builds trust from the ground up as you are counting on them at the same time they are counting on you.

Step 2

Is your team in alignment on the mission or purpose of your work? Does leadership spend time articulating and enrolling people to support the big idea, or is most energy spent on the small stuff? Teams that are invested in the larger purpose have greater levels of trust. To build trust, ensure your people understand the big picture of the organization, the vision that you have and what part they play in that vision.

Step 3

Perhaps the most direct tip of all. Building trust comes from behaviours and words that are trustworthy. Follow through on your promises; be consistent in your actions. Leaders are encouraged to practice and understand EQ explicitly, in other words, walk your talk. Communication is crucial; expand yours to be honest and transparent. Sharing information with teams increases everyone’s collaboration and makes the organization more effective.

Trust is earned when actions meet words. [CHRIS BUTLER]

Trust gets your organization ‘Change Ready’

Trust in an organization is like a stretchy rubber band. Trust extends throughout the organization before change happens, when communication is high and relationships are solid. During times of change, trust is the flex factor that allows teams to be more resilient and adaptable. Teams are able to spring back into productivity because they have trust to connect them. Leaders are urged to ‘exercise trust during times of change’ – let people know as and when things change, not after the event. When leaders share the burden of change, enrolling others in transitions gives more people opportunities to be stakeholders and invested in trusting relationships. Facing an uncertain future, building trust in organizations is one of the best ways to be prepared for change and growth. Also remember, when there is no trust, people spend a lot more time watching their backs and being on the defensive, which often translates to them spending more time in survival mode thereby disengaging their cortex or thinking brain. A few months ago we discussed the amygdala or emotional hijack. When people are in this state they lose the ability to be rational or innovative, just to mention 2 qualities so needed in the workplace.

Returning to Simelane’s article in the Business Report, he states that, “Healthy companies are based on Trust, Honesty and open dialogue and are led by empathetic managers …” He is supported in this thinking by Microsoft Chief Executive, Satya Nadella, Elon Musk and many other top global leaders.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient ineffective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. [STEPHEN COVEY]

Maybe right now would be a good time to give some thought to what the trust is like in your relationships and workplace, and look at ways to build more trust with those around you.