“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work” – Warren Bennis
You may be in the e-commerce business or you may be selling software. Whatever industry you are in, there are some unmeasurable traits in business that are unequalled. These unmeasurable traits are the ones that bring heart and soul to a company. One such valuable commodity is ‘Trust’.
Believe it or not, all of us are in the people business. It is the relationships we build each day, that drive us to work better. Merely complying with laws and regulations will not help to build up trust among your workforce and customers. A genuine concern for your customers and the community will help to improve transparency. Without transparency, there is no trust.
With increased connectivity in the world, all companies are under the scanner. With 24-hour media coverage and constant scrutiny on social media, a single mistake can prove fatal to a business. For Eg: During a nationally televised college basketball game in New York, the star player’s Nike Sneakers ripped apart leaving him with an injured knee. The next day Nike’s stock fell by more than 1%. The world is watching your every move and companies that succeed in proving that they’re in it for the best interests of their consumers are the ones that rank high on the reputation index.
Trust has become more than a soft corporate issue. To develop or build up the trust factor, you need to know where you stand on the scale as an organization. Organizations should develop a trust-based culture within themselves to extend the same behaviour to their stakeholders and clients. To measure the level of trust within your organization you can find answers to the following:
- Do your employees meet their obligations? – Consistent failure to keep obligations is a sign that the employees are not committed. If there is a lack of commitment, then you can easily conclude that your customers are not happy.
- Do your employees take corrective measures when they fail to meet obligations? – When they fail to keep their commitments do they inform all stakeholders and try to come up with a mutually acceptable plan B?
- Do your employees consider customers more or less important than their peers? – If your employees forget or neglect promises made to their peers than they can easily neglect the customers as well.
- Do your employees feel free to make mistakes? – This may sound cliche but how can you learn and grow unless you make mistakes?
These questions will help you to determine the work culture in your organization. If you rank low on all these points then you can conclude that your organization lacks the vital component – ‘trust’.
So how can businesses build or maintain trust? You can put down a set of principles as the foundation of your company and ensure to focus on them with every transaction that you make. Following are some ways in which you can build up trust:
1) Earn trust in your business with an urgency:
Use of the latest digital technologies can help businesses gain new forms of customer engagement. Companies need to redouble their efforts to ensure data privacy and security. Other than data integrity, issues around sustainability, accessibility, diversity also fall within the trust equation. Gaining trust will also give you economic benefits. How is that so? If customers find that your services/ products are not according to their preferences, they will switch to another company to meet their requirements. Thus trust is broken. Hence you need to address your pain points such as data complexity, manage escalating costs of enabling data security, managing incidents with cloud partners etc. with an urgency.
2) Corrective Actions:
Trust in the digital world is not only about firewalls and encryption. It should reflect as a character of the organization. For eg: Netflix- the media-services provider has emerged as a favourite among global audiences. In wake of the #MeToo movement, Netflix came across sexual assault allegations against their “House of Cards” actor Kevin Spacey. Netflix promptly fired him from the cast, thus putting human issues ahead of revenue concerns. The public appreciated Netflix for their corrective actions. This is a fine example of crisis management.
3) Embed trust into the DNA of your organization:
All your customer strategies, operating models and even products/services should be centred around trust. For this, the workforce should be in sync with the ideology of genuine concern for the customer’s wellbeing. Business leaders should engage with employees and the theme of trust should be conveyed right from top to bottom. Create ethical standards and enforce them time and again. As stated earlier keep a tab on how credibly does your company deliver on its promises made both within the organization and to your customers.
Once your business has expanded, at a certain point, as an entrepreneur, you’ll have to relinquish some control. You need to give others the opportunity to work on the reputation that you’ve developed as a company. Encourage your workforce to step out and take new responsibilities. Businesses can thrive only if you delegate some work to others and that itself requires trust. But if you’re working on building your company on the principle of trust, you needn’t worry about this one.
Well, it’s easy for me to rant on about trust being the cornerstone of your business – but actually ingraining it within your already-established organization – that’s difficult. Trust takes years to cultivate but can be broken in a moment. Despite your best efforts, it is impossible to eliminate trust incidents completely. But organizations can be prepared by having a strategy in place that strikes a balance between profit and trust. This can minimise trust incidents and when they do occur the strategy that’s in place can help to minimize their impact.
Do you agree on these views? So what is the level of trust within your company? I would love to hear from you.