Archive for the ‘Trust’ Category

Communication – the key to building trust

October 16, 2013

Lydia HewettI’ve worked with many household names, usually when they are trying to change their working culture to move in a new strategic direction and in my experience the companies that do this successfully do it openly, honestly and in an adult way. In other words they trust their employees and management team to create shared goals and together agree how they are going to get there. Sounds easy doesn’t it? In reality it’s a brave and often avoided move, as Stephen Covey says in ‘The Speed of Trust’:

“Trust is the least understood and most neglected variable of our time.”

Unless a company has always had an open and honest culture with trust at the core, then creating trust is a challenge. It means getting everyone talking, getting everything out in the open – believe me, when you start asking people to talk about what’s good and bad about their work place, they rarely hold back!

For management teams this sudden honesty can be terrifying, all sorts of issues they thought had disappeared rise to the surface, but this bravery is always rewarded. As Covey says:

“How we do what we do makes all the difference.”

The brave organisation spends time getting past issues out into the open, talking through the proposed changes and taking time to explain the reason behind them. Crucially they’ll also listen to and value the opinions and issues they hear back. Your people are the most important resource and they know detailed aspects of your company that as a manager you will not. By trusting their judgement and ideas, you engage them in the process of change, you talk through issues that if ignored become barriers to successful transformation, and you get a range of invaluable ideas that help the change be a long term, lasting success.

It’s an adult process and a hugely motivating thing to be involved with. I’ve lost count of the number of times people from all levels of an organisation have told me after a session that this is the first time they feel their voice has been heard, or the first time they really understand where their company is headed and what’s expected of them – it’s powerful stuff.

The key to generating trust is to keep your courage, yes, you’ll have to come through some difficult conversations and face up to some issues that it would be easier to ignore. In reality it’s a spring clean, by getting your house in order and everything into the open, you create strong relationships based on shared trust and common goals to work towards a shared future, I for one want to be part of an organisation that operates on these terms.

Lydia Hewett

About Lydia:

Lydia started out in-house, recruiting staff, managing employee communications and developing HR policies for a FTSE 100 business as it went through a complex demerger.

She moved into her first consulting role in ad agency JWT’s employee communications arm, principally working on NHS change projects. A move to PwC was followed by five years in their consulting arm. Here she worked for various household names as well as for smaller organisations, specialising in employee engagement, culture change and communications.

She is CIPD qualified and has coached managers, designed communications strategies, implemented corporate restructuring programmes and managed complex global change processes.

www.prospectplaceconsulting.com

The great trust gap

October 8, 2013

2013 has been a terrible year for organisational trust.

The Jimmy Savile inquiry highlighted a worrying lack of accountability within the BBC and even the police. Edward Snowden’s data-privacy whistleblowing suggested the governments not only don’t trust us, but we shouldn’t trust them. And the new Governor designate of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, declared that trust “screeched out of the parking lot” in 2008 and banks need to undergo deep cultural change to restore public confidence.

Frankly, these scandals of mistrust come as no surprise to most of us, whether you’re the waitress in a bakery or the CEO of a bank. The CIPD’s quarterly report found that only 36% of employees trust senior leaders and 58% had adopted a ‘not bothered’ attitude for work. The symptoms of mistrust – hostile gossip, fruitless meetings and incompetent leaders – are daily realities for many in the workplace.

Yet high trust is a key characteristic of profitable and sustainable businesses. Trust not only provokes customers to buy, it encourages employees to stay loyal and turns process-clogged organisations into lean, mean collaborative machines.

It’s time we spoke up about the lack of trust in our organisations and took responsibility for change. Here are the three steps we take at Blue Sky when turning rhetoric into reality.

1.    Take the trust blinkers off

Start noticing the unquestioned low trust behaviours that happen within your business every day. Examples to look out for include leaders talking the talk but not demonstrating the competence or the character to live up to their senior role; widespread grumbling behind the backs of colleagues; a reluctance to make decisions; not owning up to mistakes and making self-serving decisions.

Click here to read more »

2.    Break trust down into its elements

Steven M.R Covey brilliant book The Speed of Trust emphasises that trust is a behaviour rather than a trait. By breaking trust into 13 characteristics, including talking straight, righting wrongs, confronting reality, clarifying expectations and practicing accountability, he demonstrates that trust is under our control, and that it can be rebuilt, step by step – if we can find a way to commit to it.

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3.    Get buy-in from within

Finally, trust has to become a priority truly embraced and evangelised by people at all levels of an organisation to ensure cultural change. Naming the behaviours you identified in step one, and citing the evidence that show the impact of trust on the bottom line (for example, people are 87% less likely to leave an organisation with high trust) will help win over cynics. With senior leaders as your champions, you then need to ensure that trust coaching spreads through the ranks. As role models begin to emerge, the groundswell of trust will begin to grow.

Click here to read more »

You can share your own stories on twitter #DoTrust or through our LinkedIn page and of course your own blogs and social presences.

Elke Edwards - Blue Sky Performance ImprovementElke Edwards

I am Director of Learning at Blue Sky, so am firmly placed to share with you our approach to performance improvement at every level from your contact centre staff to your CEO. I know that for businesses to achieve major success, their people need to work towards organisational objectives, not individual or departmental ones. I love the work I personally deliver for senior teams that are positioned to support this behaviour from the top down.

Do you know what trust looks like?

September 25, 2013

Part Two in a series of four articles on rebuilding organisational trust and driving employee engagement

Last week, I looked at building your awareness about the low trust behaviours that surround you every day. We’ve had some fantastic conversations starting to build around the topic, so head over to our Twitter page and look for the #DoTrust hashtag or our LinkedIn page to benefit from the stories and tips shared so far!

Please contribute to the conversation as we move onto the next stage in the trust process – breaking trust into manageable chunks.

What do we actually mean by trust?

Trust-Tuesday-email-two-blog-imageWe use the word trust all the time, but it never loses its emotional punch. If someone says they don’t trust you, it hurts. A lot.

I’m a big fan of the Stephen M.R Covey book The Speed of Trust. In it, he discusses how we continually and subconsciously make decisions based on the confidence we have in a person or an organisation. This confidence is made up of character (a person [or organisation’s] intent and integrity) and competence (their capability, skills and track record).

Have a go at the following exercise:

Relax and take a moment to think about somebody you don’t trust. Imagine them in front of you (really try to imagine them; their clothes, their posture, their expression).
Now, think about why you don’t trust this person. Let me ask you four questions:

  • Is it their intent? Do you believe they’re always out for themselves? Or do they play for the bigger team? What motivates their actions? Is it good?
  • Are they straight? Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Do they say one thing to you and another to somebody else? Do they have integrity?
  • Do they have the knowledge and expertise required for their job? The technical, leadership and people skills? Can they make the right decisions?
  • Do they have relevant experience to bring into their current role? Will they be able to tackle unknown problems? Do they have a track record of success?

So what did you discover in going through that process? Is it their character or their competence that results in a lack of trust? Is it both?

We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust – the key question is whether you want to rebuild trust with them. Many of us hate giving those who have hurt us a second chance, but sometimes second chances can have magical results.

If you want a more trustworthy organisation with more engaged employees, you have to behave in a more trustworthy way. You have to commit to building trust on an individual level before you can expect it to scale. And trust is based on our experiences, so common sense tells us that for trust to be changed, behaviours must be changed first. We don’t need to buy sophisticated computer systems. We need to change what we do.

This is both scary and exciting, because it means we’re in control. And the first step in changing behaviour is naming behaviour, which takes a lot of guts.

Stephen M.R Covey talks about the 13 behaviours that build or destroy trust. Let’s highlight a few:

  • Talk straight – and demonstrate respect to your employees and customers alike. Many businesses are afraid of transparency, but it can have an amazing effect. Admitting that you’re in the middle of a change programme and you don’t know what the end’s going to be, or that the CEO is on his way out but you’re recruiting carefully, actually creates more trust and stability, not less.
  • Right wrongs – admit mistakes. Apologise. Demonstrate how you will change. It’s as simple as that. A reclaimed customer is more loyal than one who never had a bad experience in the first place, so it’s not just the right thing to do – it works.
  • Get better – when coaching the board of a very successful company, our team was recently told “whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you’re coaches. Don’t even tell reception.” Why? “Because we can’t let anyone know our exec board are being coached.” Why not? Is getting better wrong? Or is it reassuring and inspiring?
  • Confront reality – does your CEO get to hear the bad news? Does he want to? We recently did a diagnostic on a leadership team and were told to “take out a lot of the bad comments – he won’t be able to take it.” That’s a scary prospect.
  • Clarify expectations – spend time to let people know what is really needed from them. All too often, people come unstuck for the lack of a proper briefing.
  • Practice accountability – consider Jimmy Savile. What about all those people who knew what he was doing and didn’t speak up? Bad people are simply a fact of life, so it’s up to those around them to stand up for what is right.
  • Extend trust – recently, an ex-senior director of AOL let slip that 75% of AOL customers were paying for dial up broadband service, even though AOL offer it for free. They had signed up years ago, when it wasn’t, and nobody had called to explain. This charge accounts for 80% of their profitability. Trust isn’t passive – it has to be earned. Are you proactive in whistleblowing untrustworthiness?

Trust is behaviour. Behaviour is under our control. But do you want to act?

For me it is [as my 10 year old would say] a no-brainer! I remember my Girl Guide motto “It’s your world – change it.” But once you’ve identified what you need to do, how do you make sure it will really work?

Next week, I’ll look at the practical things you can do to rebuild trust in your organisation. Until then, let me know the least and most trustworthy behaviours you see occurring around you every day…

You can share your own stories on twitter #DoTrust or through our LinkedIn page Blue Sky Performance Improvement and of course your own blogs and social presences.

Elke Edwards - Blue Sky Performance ImprovementElke@bluesky