Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leading at the Speed of Trust

The Harvard Business Journal reports that trust in American companies is at an all time low. It cites not only trust between businesses and consumers, but also trust between businesses and their employees. The cost of lost trust is high. From a sales standpoint, a loss of trust means that each transaction will be scrutinized more closely by the consumer before they actually make the purchase. This translates directly into higher sales costs, higher transaction costs, and reduced profitability.

But what about the lack of trust between employees and management?

First, this is hardly a new phenomenon. Trust between management and employees has been waning for years. The economic meltdown that started in late 2008 merely accelerated the process and has taken us to new lows. Second, the cost of this loss of trust is also very high. A lack of trust can easily hurt employee productivity, but it also impacts the cost of attracting and hiring good employees. And, of course, there are the training costs. Whether you have a formal training program for new employees or have your current employees train new ones, the fact remains that there is a high cost of training that is often overlooked.

The lack of trust is costing American businesses a lot of money, and most of them don’t even realize it.

The funny thing is, when trust is high in an organization, it’s not just a happier place to work. After all, American businesses have never striven to make employees “happy”. But it is a more productive, more creative, and more engaged workplace.

Employees work harder, without thinking about it.

Employees are more creative, without thinking about it.

Employees serve the customers better, without thinking about it.

With the high costs associated with the lack of trust and the dramatic benefits associated with creating a trust based organization, why aren’t more companies exerting the effort to build trust?

There are really two reasons.

1. Most organizations don’t realize they have a trust problem. It’s not that they are ignoring it, they just have no idea of the importance of trust. They don’t know what they don’t know.

2. Those that realize there is a trust issue have no idea how to go about rebuilding trust in their organization. After all, it’s not like you can follow a cook book and suddenly build trust in your organization. In other words, they know that they don’t know.

The concept of building trust based organizations is coming to the forefront as American leaders look for ways to restore profitability and growth in their organizations. These companies are realizing that the intersection of their company's vision, their corporate values (how that vision is implemented), and their employees' expectations can create a new source of energy that can propel their organization to new heights of engagement and profitability. And, the sooner they address these issues, the sooner they will get results.

The question is, do your employees trust you? Is their a clear intersection of your company's vision, the corporate values, and your employees' expectations?

If you have to think for more than one second, then the answer is likely “no.” The sooner you get started on building trust, the sooner your company will rise again.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog and will take a few minutes to provide us with feedback and perhaps share it with a friend.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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