Want to cultivate trust? Try being more transparent…

“Empower your employees to truly own culture, and in turn it will become more transparent.”
– Kimberlea Kozachenko, Senior Leader, Talent Attraction & Acquisition, ATB Financial

It’s official: Trust – or the lack of it – is one of the central issues of our time.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust in the U.S. has suffered the largest-ever-recorded drop in the survey’s history among the general population. Trust fell nine points to 43, placing it in the lower quarter of the 28-country Trust Index. Trust among the informed public in the U.S. imploded, plunging 23 points to 45, making it now the lowest of the 28 countries surveyed, below Russia and South Africa.

Interestingly, business is now expected to be an agent of change. According to Edelman, “the employer is the new safe house in global governance,” with 72 percent of respondents saying that they trust their own company. And 64 percent believe a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the Edelman research survey said they want CEOs to take the lead on policy change instead of waiting for government, which now ranks significantly below business in trust in 20 markets. This show of faith comes with new expectations; building trust (69 percent) is now the No. 1 job for CEOs, surpassing producing high-quality products and services (68 percent).

In times like these, cultivating a high level of organizational trust is more important than ever in order for a business to achieve agility and growth. Organizations of all types are facing complex and unpredictable challenges, with high pressure stakes and low margin for error. Businesses large and small are experiencing unprecedented degrees of turnover, competition, uncertainty and other types of obstacles to achieving their goals. In this volatile climate, solid teamwork is absolutely essential and related attributes like collaboration, creativity and coordination are more critical than ever before.

Trust is the most important element for all high-performance teams. You can’t have an effective team, or any enduring relationship for that matter, without it. Trust isn’t an optional “nice to have,” nor is it something that can be delegated to HR. It’s a core value that needs to be cultivated as an essential component of every major strategic initiative that the organization undertakes.

But what happens if trust isn’t present in an organization? Can anything be done to cultivate it?

According to recent research, the best antidote for mistrust is transparency. In a Glassdoor U.S. Site Survey conducted in January 2016, 90 percent of job seekers say that it’s important to work for a company that embraces transparency. What’s more, 75 percent of executives believe that consumers demand transparency (Global Consumer Executive Top of Mind Survey, June 2015).

Embracing organizational transparency requires an open 2-way dialogue between leadership and employees. This can present enormous challenges and opportunities. In traditional organizations, decisions are typically made in a closed room with a small, narrowly defined set of leaders. But in order to become more transparent, that has to change. In order for all members of an organization to trust their leadership, they need to have some visibility into decisions as they are being made, and into the reasoning behind those decisions.

Layering in transparency eliminates the traditional knowledge hierarchy and it can offer many benefits to the organization as a whole. For one, transparency builds collaboration and alignment across the organization. A second benefit is that wider dispersion of knowledge can contribute to shared goals. Sharing the larger vision of what management initiatives and where the organization is trying to go builds a shared sense of purpose. For another, involving everyone in the ideation of solutions often creates a greater sense of connection with the process, which leads to a greater employee investment in organizational goals. All of these changes contribute to increased agility, higher performance and, ultimately, more resilience in the face of changing business conditions.

Here are three tips on how to cultivate transparency in your organization:

  1. Start from the inside out. A culture of trust doesn’t just occur on its own. It needs to be carefully cultivated and inherent in every decision and activity. The best path to building organizational trust is developing trust between individuals. Make a commitment to open, transparent communication to lead to more authentic relationships between employees, their immediate supervisors, and the larger organization.
  2. Create a safe forum for open communication. Communication is the key to both trust and transparency – it’s the oil for the high-trust, high-performance engine. If communication doesn’t happen frequently and effectively, the engine will run rough due to the heat and friction of constant misunderstandings. Utilizing a platform that allows quick, easy and effective communication to take place on a continual basis will keep the dialogue flowing in all directions.
  3. Be authentic. When employees are encouraged to contribute their voice to the conversation it promotes communication in the organization and creates self-worth for team members. But in order for this to happen, it’s absolutely essential that people are allowed to communicate honestly. That’s why anonymous feedback can be helpful — it enables people to share their opinions without fearing negative consequences.

An organization that places a high priority on transparency and communication will be on the right path to cultivating trust, which is the greatest asset to help organizations thrive in turbulent times.
Does your organization want to create a stronger culture of trust? Waggl can help by providing an easy and efficient platform to increase transparency, encourage collaboration and build alignment across the organization. If you are interested in learning more, sign up for a demo today.

“Engaging and getting comfortable with transparency early on provides a competitive advantage for companies willing to take that risk.”
– Katie Burke, VP of Culture and Experience, HubSpot