If organizations want to build cultures of trust, they need to demonstrate that they can be trusted for something – whether it’s for good customer service, for being honest, for providing innovative or good quality products or for dealing with their employees, customers and suppliers with integrity – or for all of them. Trust as a quality for all aspects of an organization is hard to win and can only be done so after many demonstrations of consistent behaviour against each of those aspects.
Apple, for example, is trusted for delivering innovative and high quality products delivered with the complementarity of excellent customer service. It breaks trust when its dealings with its supplier chain and the people they employ to make its products are examined. There are manifold examples of poor working environments, labour and human rights, environment, and health and safety violations. They include uncontrolled working hours, age discrimination during recruiting, and chemical and hazardous waste management problems.
At every touch-point where people and communities are affected, an organisation and its impact, will either add to or take away value points in its trust account with the market-place. This will either make its customers more, or less willing to buy whatever it is offering to sell.
In the last decade we have seen many organisations lose the trust of the market-place, so much so that in a recent Ipsos Mori “veracity” survey, Business leaders were part of the ‘Least trusted professions’, rating only 33% of 1019 adults questioned. (% of people who trust them to tell the truth)’. Only Estate agents (30%), Journalists (24%), Government ministers (20%) and Politicians (15%) scored less. At the other end of the trust scale, nurses topped the index with the backing of 93% of respondents – ahead of doctors (91%), teachers (88%)and judges (81%).
Truth telling – the ability to know what is true and to speak it, is vital to forming and maintaining trust. Speaking the truth and inviting truthful and open communications between parties is very important to forming honest relationships between people. If people cannot be truthful when things are not right, or something is going badly, then suspicion or resentment will occur that will break down trust. When individual relationships become characterised by consistent behaviours of one kind or another, whether honest, truthful and trustworthy or by lies, deception or manipulation, then these become the norm, that become the culture of that organisation.
So, in some respect it is reassuring that nurses and doctors were found to be trust-worthy – it suggests that our hospitals have cultures that breed trust. It is unfortunate that our governments breed distrust.
For those of us at work – the question is – do the behaviours in our organisation breed trust or distrust? And how will you find out which it is?
5 December 2016