The right words at the right time can go a long way in building trust in an organization.
From an organisational point of view, there are two facets to the concept of trust – trust between the members of the organisation and trust between the organisation and society. In both cases, the focal point is communication because that’s the only way you can present your side clearly and relate to the opposite party as well.
A Director HR reminds us why trust is so important, Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Building trust is the key to create a culture of belongingness and cohesiveness within an organisation. Trust enables people to be self assured and increases the ability to take risks, adapt to the changes, collaborate and facilitate information exchange. Trust forms the very basis for an effective leadership as it nurtures empowerment, team work and thought process leading to creativity and productivity. It helps an organisation to forgo the negative vibes such as conflicts, ego clashes, and fear of no recognition and brings in a win-win situation.
There are many ways in which skilful communication can be used to build trust within the organisation. Walk the Talk — Often organisations profess lofty ideals but the actions at the leadership level do not follow suit. Secondly, do not turn a blind eye to transgressions. Again this will create confusion which leads distrust. Thirdly, be transparent to the extent possible and communicate when it is not possible clearly so that nobody is second guessing. And finally, allow employees to fail – this will create an environment where they are not afraid to own up to mistakes and will go a long way in building mutual trust.
The importance of transparency, communication and feedback, the organisation must be clear and transparent with all the stakeholders at all points in time. Expectations must be clearly set, goals well defined, and the code of conduct/modus operandi must be framed. Miscommunication is a common cause of distrust. Organisations must clearly communicate their needs, expectations, goals and rewards to all stakeholders. Any ambiguity creates a ground for assumptions and could lead to anomalous behavior from either side. The organisation must keep its commitments to all stakeholders. Seeking feedback periodically is a good way of assessing situations and nipping things in the bud. It will also help to iron out issues that might lead to discontentment, disagreement or distrust.
Cultivating trust in the minds of customers, investors and society at large involves communication on a larger scale. An old saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’. In line with this, it is essential to pay attention to how employees interact with each other, how the management communicates, recognises and holds employees accountable. Brand immersion practices for employees should be made mandatory so that the company’s mission and values are well-inculcated by the employees. This in turn will serve to enrich the overall employee experience. Leaders should model ideal behavior so that other employees can follow suit. This includes stepping up when needed, taking ownership of individual responsibilities and performance and demonstrating integrity and trust.
The crucial test of an organisation’s credibility occurs in the face of a crisis, how one can handle disgruntled customers and investors. To quote a Harvard study published few months ago, one right is not equal to one wrong; it takes twelve rights to cancel out one wrong. The first step to build trust is to admit the mistake to all those who are impacted by the mistake. The second and subsequent steps would involve defining corrective measures or preventive measures, soliciting feedback and incorporating the same after due assessment and then implementing the same along. The role of constant and consistent communication during planning and implementation cannot be undermined. The trust gets rebuilt only after one receives / observes / experiences in consistence with the promises.
Thus, open channels of communication are integral to building brand integrity as well as trust in the minds of employees.