Creating a Culture of Trust

Updated: Sep 30



So you have declared ‘trust’ as one of your values. Great start.

You’ve put it on your website, on posters in the lunchroom, you’ve talked about how important it is at your leadership meeting. Excellent.

And that’s about as far as most organisations go. And it is not enough.

The simplest definition of culture is ‘the way we do things around here’. Just like our faith, a culture of trust is only developed when there is a renewal of our minds and a transformation of our hearts. We have to start thinking differently, doing things differently, behaving differently.

But where do you start? Do you even have time to really focus on it? You are very busy just trying to keep up with the day-to-day, and then putting out the fires that keep starting up all over the place.

Here’s the truth – you cannot afford NOT to focus on it.

Every decision that is made, every relationship that is entered into, every feeling that is experienced is linked to trust and whether or not it exists and how well it is nurtured and protected.

Your employees and volunteers are making decisions every day based on whether or not they can trust in the leadership of your organisation. Your customers, clients, the people you serve are making the same decisions, as are all your stakeholders. People work for organisations they can trust. People buy products and engage in services they can trust.

When that trust is fractured, breaking down, when there is any doubt about whether that trust is well placed, it causes all kinds of negative feelings – stress, anxiety, frustration, disappointment, anger

Sadly, the reality is that a large percentage of your employees, volunteers, customers, clients and other stakeholders are experiencing these feelings more than they should be, and when they do, it wrecks havoc for your organisation. You start spending time, money, resources dealing with the breakdown of trust rather than directing that time, money and those resources into building a culture of trust.

In this series of articles, we will unpack the things you need to do to build a culture of trust effectively through your organisation, bringing trust to the fore in 6 main areas:

  1. Leadership

  2. People Management

  3. Marketing and Branding

  4. Sales

  5. Customer Service

  6. Governance, Compliance and Risk

The first things, though, that we need to understand is what trust is, why and how it breaks down, and then, and only then, can we unpack the processes, systems and behaviours that are required to building and protecting trust.

Trust is fundamentally our ability to rely on:

  1. A person or group of people

  2. An organisation

  3. Products and Services

…to deliver a specific outcome. The outcome that we all want, and all our stakeholders want, is this:

They want their Expectations met or managed

They want their Needs met

They want the Promises made to them kept

It is on these three things, Expectations, Needs and Promises, that trust sits precariously, and our understanding of them, and our management of them, are critical to keeping trust intact.

The complexity comes in when we realise that there are multiple points of trust. When a potential employee comes in for an interview, for example, they are establishing very quickly, and subconsciously, if they can trust:

  1. the person who is interviewing them

  2. the person they will be reporting to

  3. the people they will be working with

  4. the organisation as a whole

  5. the role that is being offered

  6. the products and services they will be representing

If any one of those does not stack up, they will be weighing up whether they take the job, and if they do take it, the assessment continues, every day!

For a visual of the model for trust, ENPs, and how they work, you can download a copy of The simple truth about trust ebook here. You can also order more Truth About Trust materials through the Resolve Bookshop

In the next article we’ll unpack building trust in leadership.

Something to ponder: Would your employees say that you have a culture of trust? How important is it to you that you, your organisation, your products and services are trusted? How much time and resources have you allocated to ensuring that trust is built and maintained?

This article was written by Vanessa Hall

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