According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, credibility of CEOs has dipped to an all-time low of just 37% … that’s 12 points in a single year.
Not only that, but two thirds of the countries surveyed by Edelman for the report now register under 50% trust in business, government, media and NGOs to do what’s right.
Pretty stark, but not entirely surprising to us … we’ve been charting the link between leadership trust and business growth for some time now and our latest report with the CMI supports this fundamental connection.
We work with a whole raft of different organisations to encourage and support the behaviours that help build organisational trust through effective internal communication programmes.
Internal & external trust
Edelman also highlights the fact that business currently enjoys higher levels of trust than government. This is a huge responsibility and a massive opportunity.
The report notes that the three most important attributes for building trust generally are treating employees well, offering high quality products and services and listening to customers. It also points out that listening to employees and acting on this feedback is a necessity of trust building and is an operational imperative.
Clearly there’s an urgent need to build trust in businesses and IC professionals are well placed to play a leading role in this.
There are many things IC professionals can do to help build trust – here are three of the best:
- Communicate openly and honestly and encourage the leadership team to do the same. Fudging issues, hiding problems or simply ignoring things will only serve to further erode any trust you may have. Front up the bad news, use appropriate language and try always to explain what the organisation is doing to address any issues. Remember that an information vacuum will quickly be filled by rumour and speculation.
- Encourage face to face communication by leaders … it’s the best way to foster trust. And trust is transitive, so if you build trust between leaders and middle managers, that trust will be passed onto their teams and spread across the whole organisation.
- Listen. If you’re not listening to and acknowledging the problems that are keeping your employees awake at night – how can you possibly communicate effectively with them? Until you reassure them their issues are being addressed, landing your next big initiative will be an uphill struggle. Establishing some kind of formal listening in your organisation is absolutely essential. You can read more about this in our Spotlight on Listening here.
For IC professionals seeking to rebuild trust, there’s a lot to do. But the potential benefits are huge … a more engaged, motivated workforce all pulling in the same direction will inevitably fuel growth.