How important is trust to you, your employees and the organisation?



Where trust is built between people at all levels of an organisation, it can reduce the friction which impedes social interaction and leads to improved economic value for organisations. Just like placing oil in your car to keep the engine running smoothly, trust can reduce valuable time and wasted resources spent on ineffective discussions, meetings, administration and poor decision making. Trust is a two-way process; it is just as important that the trustor has the propensity to trust the trustee, as much as the trustee offering trusting actions and behaviours. The line-manager trusts their team members to deliver, the team members feel trusted.


Trust is at an all-time low globally within business, media, government and NGO according to the annual Edelman report 2017. What probably comes as no great surprise, when you consider the amount of constant change and uncertainty we experience on a daily basis, is trust in the UK, is at a historic low and has declined over the last few years. CEO credibility is also low, 37% of well-informed people state they don’t trust the integrity of CEO’s. The belief is businesses do have an opportunity to reverse this decline if it improves the way in which it engages with people. This includes their clients, customers and employees.


Trust can be experienced at a cognitive and affective level, and is much more than someone’s capability or competence to do something. Trust happens at a conscious and sub-conscious level, the brain digests many feelings, thoughts, emotions. It might be measured as the quality of the relationship between two people, groups of people or between a person and organisation. Trust involves risk, the perceived probability of loss and willingness to be vulnerable for both trustor and trustee. Creating the interdependence between people, the reliance on each other can greater achieve desired outcomes. The importance of the space and connectivity between people is like the oil in the car.


What does trust really mean to you?

Is it; I trust my colleagues to do their job, trust them to deliver what is expected of them? 

This type of trust, also known as cognitive, is based on how competent you feel they are to deliver the results or desired outcomes; cognitive trust is related to the reward region of the brain. The part where the trustor has made a cognitive decision that the trustee is capable, reliable and competent to do a task within a specific time or context.


Perhaps you’re not even sure that you trust them to do that?

Do you ever think that I don’t trust this person to do this project as they won’t do the work in the same way I would do it? (more about your propensity to trust) Or possibly the person doesn’t have the skill or capability to deliver the result?  In which case, they may need your support and guidance to develop the capability.


Affective trust captures the emotional ties between people, incorporating the mutual interpersonal care or emotional bonds. Perhaps this type of trust is less considered, yet it is argued, just as important to deliver organisational results. Affective trust involves the perception by others of a person’s motivation, purpose, beliefs and social conscience in what they do or how they behave. It can support the readiness and willingness to take social interpersonal interactions. Developing a secure interrelated space where people feel able and possibly comfortable to share their vulnerability. Their propensity to have more honest and open conversations regarding individual and team performance including strengths, weaknesses, mistakes that have been made and concerns over failure, opportunities for creative thinking and constructive feedback


How willing are you to share your true thoughts and opinions without fear of recrimination from others within the organisation?

That doesn’t mean dumping personal, pointed arguments on the table because you are frustrated. It does mean communicating about concerns, worries and fears you have regarding a specific topic and how this will impact the stakeholder and organisation.


When affective trust is built it can lead to people treating others as if they are family and aid empathy towards each other. This enables information sharing within relationships, building on the behavioural interactions between people; the talking, listening, sharing of stories and experiences and caring for each other. People are open to vulnerability and prepared to have risk taking conversations. Organisation performance and results are driven by actions and in turn, these actions are driven by attitudes, perceptions and beliefs in what is right or wrong. Both cognitive and affective levels of trust are important to deliver continued levels of performance.


Business leaders now have the opportunity to build trust within their organisation, with their employees and within the community.

Treating employees like adults, encouraging open conversations, taking time to listen, requesting feedback on their leadership approach engenders a trusting environment. Sharing good and bad news and explaining why tough decision have been made. Encouraging joint ownership of outcomes without fear of recrimination, helping people feel part of decisions can lead to accountability and being valued. This doesn’t mean steering people to your way of thinking, rather listening with intent as they may actually have a better approach or idea than the one that has been discussed already. Creating collective thinking to perform beyond individual outcomes and enable organisations to respond more quickly to diversity, challenges and innovation. Feedback becomes the jewel in the crown to becoming an adaptable and innovative organisation. Everyone listens to each other and their opinions without personal agendas.


Trust is the oil that supports the smooth running of organisations.

To be competitive in the ever-changing world around them, business have to be more flexible and adaptable. Building trust between people and within teams, by developing people to interact more openly and honestly, share collective resource, can support organisations to improve their effectiveness, flexibility, innovation and performance. When trust is exhibited at all levels of the organisation it can enable individuals to feel more valued, help teams utilise their combined experience and knowledge. Helping organisations to deliver their best results.

 Nov 15, 2017