Back in June I had the opportunity, through Path to Trust, to be mentored by Charles Feltman, the author of the Thin Book of Trust. As the concept of Trust is a key component of Change, it felt like a natural alignment for me to learn more, teach and speak on this topic in greater depth than I had been. This article accompanies the free webinar I gave at Path to Trust in August.

What is the level of trust in your organization? How do employees rate your senior leadership team? Research says that only 51 percent of employees trust senior management.

Trust promotes creativity, empowerment, conflict management, collaboration and leadership during times of uncertainty and change. A culture built of trust is a valuable asset for any organization that is able to nurture and develop it.

How change ready are you?

As a core enabler of a high-performance organizational culture, the absence or presence of trust can be either an accelerator or barrier of organizational strategy and performance. As Stephen M.R. Covey writes in his book Speed of Trust, when the level of trust in an organization goes down, the speed of change goes down with it and the costs of the change go up.

Before you start that transformational change, ask the question “is your organization ready for change?” and “will your organization’s culture, and more importantly, its level of trust support the change you wish to implement?”

What is Trust?

For the purposes of trust in the workplace, we define trust as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.

How to build Trust

Relationships are complex and so is the trust building process. Trust comes from who you are, what you say, and how you behave. According to Charles Feltman, author of the Thin Book of Trust he has identified 4 Distinctions of Trust:

SINCERITY – is the assessment that you are honest, that you say what you mean and mean what you say; you can be believed and taken seriously. It also means when you express an opinion it is valid, useful, and is backed up by sound thinking and evidence. Finally, it means that your actions will align with your words.

RELIABILITY – is the assessment that you meet the commitments you make, that you keep your promises.

COMPETENCE – is the assessment that you have the ability to do what you are doing or propose to do. In the workplace this usually means the other person believes you have the requisite capacity, skill, knowledge, and resources, to do a particular task or job.

CARE – is the assessment that you have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Of the four assessments of trustworthiness, care is in some ways the most important for building lasting trust. When people believe you are only concerned with your self-interest and don’t consider their interests as well, they may trust your sincerity, reliability and competence, but they will tend to limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions. On the other hand, when people believe you hold their interest in mind, they will extend their trust more broadly to you.

To build organizational trust, employees need connection to their work, to what’s going on in the organization, and to the leader. Here are some ways to build that connection:

  1. Help employees understand how they fit in, how their contributions make a difference.
  2. Improve the flow and frequency of communications. Employees often feel they are out of the loop and they are not involved in decisions that impact them.
  3. Close the gap between senior leaders and employees. Leaders need to take time to develop authentic relationships with employees by connecting to their daily reality.

For more on Path to Trust, check out their website here: www.pathtotrust.com.