Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What To Do When Trust Has Been Shattered – Part II

Last week we discussed how one or more events can cause a lack of trust within an organization and I noted that today’s economy is certainly contributing to the high levels of mistrust.

So, how can you rebuild trust in an organization once it’s been lost?

As I mentioned last week, the first step is acknowledging the problem. Once everyone is in agreement and ready to tackle the lack of trust that exists, you must identify what caused the trust issue in the first place.

It's different in every organization, but until you identify the cause you can't do anything to correct it. It might be as simple as those unplanned layoffs, or the issue might go much deeper than that. If you are lucky, the lack of trust can be traced back to a single event. It’s more likely that there are a whole series of events that created the hole that exists today. The simple reality is that you will need professional help to uncover all of the reasons. And, yes, outside consultants bring in their own set of trust issues, so this is a process that you won’t want to rush. You’ll need to have a detailed plan in place to assure your employees that they can trust the consultants before they’ll ever offer honest feedback on why they trust or don’t trust you.

Second, you need to fess up. Admit that there is a problem to your employees. This is a big shock to many organizations who want to implement a program without ever acknowledging fault in the first place. Too many executives are afraid of “opening up the kimono” for fear of showing weakness. But let’s face reality, you're not telling them anything that they don't already know. All that is really happening is that you’re finally acknowledging what they have been talking about for months or years.

Third, you need to take specific, honest action to start rebuilding trust. Notice that I said "start." This is going to take a long time and every misstep will set you back even deeper in the hole. This step starts with sharing the honest results of your Organizational 360° Survey with the entire team. No hiding bad results, no glossing over poor performing executives, no ignoring the obvious elephant in the room. If you don’t show the warts, and if those warts aren’t consistent with what the employees provided in their feedback, then the war will be lost right there.

Finally, you need to constantly remind your employees of the changes that you are making. The only thing more difficult than changing your behavior is getting credit for changing your behavior. That’s another reason why it is important to acknowledge the problem to your employees.

There is not a silver bullet to building trust in an organization. The steps to build trust are not mystical or steeped deep in psychology. The key to building trust is in understanding that you need to build trust and that you need to make sure your actions are consistent with your words.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:

• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Another good post. You are right on when you point out that leaders have to Fess Up. That is risky but by definition trust is risky. By being open honest and yes vulnerable individuals and organizations can build trust.

    Take Good Care,