Robert F. Hurley, a management professor at Fordham University, just completed a new book, The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High Trust Organizations.
Globally, there has been a decline in trust over the past few decades, and only a third of Americans believe they can trust the government, big business, and large institutions. In The Decision to Trust, Robert Hurley explains how this new culture of cynicism and distrust creates many problems, and why it is almost impossible to manage an organization well if its people do not trust one another. High-performing, world-class companies are almost always high-trust environments. Without this elusive, important ingredient, companies cannot attract or retain top talent.
In this book, Hurley reveals a new model to measure and repair trust with colleagues managers and employees following research on the culture of several large corporations.
According to Hurley, we trust people when we are confident they will serve our interest, even in risky situations (i.e., when someone “has your back”). Real trust is about creating a community of people who take pride in being a member of that community.
Companies that have engineered trust into their corporate culture and leadership include Zappos, SAS and Starbucks.
Here are the six ways Hurley suggests managers, workers and organizations build trust:
- Create a trustworthy environment by creating a culture where everyone bonds around values. Zappos creates a workplace where everyone is expected to be invested in customer happiness.
- Align interests. Great leaders integrate a variety of stakeholders’ interest so the company is not just serving the shareholders. They also think about the customers and the employees.
- Show benevolent concern. Starbucks practices “corporate benevolence” by working with nonprofits that help farmers improve their cultivation methods so they don’t strip land and destroy their future business.
- Be capable and competent. Be honest about what you can and cannot do and leverage people’s strengths rather than trying to improve their weaknesses.
- Be predictable and have integrity. The more consistency you show to employees and customers, the more trust you will build.
- Communicate clearly. Be accurate and clear. Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it.
The high-trust leader under promises and over delivers. A high-integrity person explains why he did what he did. They strive to honor their word.
We have to try hard to be trustworthy and build an island of trust. If enough people can do that, you can change the company.
Unfortunately, what changes a company more is when many employees leave. This shows customers a lack of consistency and adds to overhead by having to hire and train new personnel. Managers then realize something is not working and that’s an incentive to change.
How will you go about creating trust before your employees leave?