I enjoyed reading “A Matter of Trust” in the May-June edition of Communication World by Pamela Shockley-Zalabak, Ph.D.
In the article, Ms. Shockley-Zalabak examines the relationship between ethics and trust and suggests a framework of four habits that, when applied to a variety of organizational processes, decisions and behaviors that can contribute to a firm’s trust profile:
- The habit of search describes the willingness to explore the complexity of issues or problems.
- The habit of justice promotes presenting information as openly and fairly as possible with concern for distortion in understanding.
- The habit of public versus private motivations requires sharing of sources, information, special opinions, motivations or biases that might influence positions or decisions.
- The habit of respect for dissent encourages opposing viewpoints and arguments as processes, policies and decisions are developed.
Trust is fundamental for the achievement of organizational excellence. All firms and organizations experience more success with high-trust profiles. Stock market performance is significantly better and innovation correlates to trust levels as distrust lowers employees’ desire to contribute to productivity goals.
The five drivers of trust are:
- Competence — the ability to meet the challenges of the environment, the overall efficiency of the organization as well as the quality of its products and services.
- Openness and honesty — how organizations communicate about problems, engage in constructive disagreements and provide input into job-related decisions.
- Concern for stakeholders — communication and stakeholder policies, processes and practices. Stakeholders trust organizations when they believe they are heard.
- Reliability — keeping commitments and basic follow-through. Or, as I like to say, “doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it.” Leaders describing why change is necessary, as well as exhibiting consistent behavior.
- Identification — connection between the organization and stakeholders that is based on core values.
Being trustworthy and being trusted are not the same. Integrity does not equate to trust. Integrity and ethical behaviors are fundamental for trust, but organizational trust requires alignment between intentions, behaviors and interpretations of behaviors.
Leaders must respond quickly to ethical abuses. Distrust grows when abuses are ignored, action is delayed or secrecy surrounds ethical violations.
A core message should make it clear that ethical violations will not be tolerated. That a complete understanding of the violating situation will be developed and that safeguards will be put in place to prevent further abuses.
Ethical action and high-trust organizations develop from intentional behaviors and strategic planning of leaders and individuals.
Is yours a high-trust organization?