Years to Build, Seconds to Break…TRUST

Friday 03.22.13A Watson Wyatt Worldwide study,,   of 12,750 U.S. workers in all major industries found that companies with high trust levels outperform their low-trust colleagues by 186 percent.

Nonetheless, organizations are sadly slow in realizing the bottom-line consequences of trust shortages.

Despite the importance of trust, few leaders give it the focus it deserves. Misunderstood as a unclear “feeling,” trust is earned through consistent, positive behaviors practiced over time, making it ultimately manageable.

“Trust always affects two outcomes—speed and cost,” confirms leadership guru Stephen M. Covey in The Speed of Trust. “When trust goes down, speed will also go down and costs will go up. When trust goes up, speed will also go up and costs will go down. It’s that simple, that real, that predictable.”

Would you honestly say that there’s a trust deficit in your company?  You may not even recognize it. Maybe it’s part of the culture, and it’s not talked about. It’s a hidden cause of lack of engagement. What do you think?

The Fragility of Trust         

We hardly need reminding of the wave of scandals that shattered the public’s faith in corporate leaders. For example, the 2008 global financial crisis, Enron’s bankruptcy, the Challenger explosion, Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in 2012.

Trust is a measure of the quality of a relationship. It can be between two people, among groups, or between a person and an organization. In totally probable situations, trust is usually a given. When you know precisely what to expect, there’s no need to make a judgment call.

To be completely honest, from what I can see in  my coaching,, many leaders are basically trustworthy as individual human beings. But in organizations with a hierarchy, power incompatibilities and pay differences, alleged trust is fragile.

In addition, the confusion created by outsourcing, mergers, downsizing and radically changing business models provides a breeding ground for distrust. In uncertain economic times, it doesn’t take much to trigger fear and insecurity that can wear away trust.

What about in your organization? Are your leaders perceived as trustworthy? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment.


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