Trust used to be, and still is in some circles, a social expectation between two or more parties. However, it seems as though societal change has flipped the expectation from expecting trust to expecting deception. As a result many of us enter into relations with eyes wide open and are looking for actions, words and deeds to substantiate our expectation of deception at home, work and in the marketplace.
Expecting to be deceived creates mental, emotional, physical and spiritual stress. The collective stress has its tolls on relationships, productivity and information. The indicators are everywhere. Consider the evidence of distrust that surrounds us:
- Pew Research tells us that, in the U.S., distrust in media has increased
- Gallup tells us trust in government has declined since 2001
- The level of trust in the banking industry is prompting desire for re-regulation
- Even Wall Street traders are trusting each other less these days, which leads to liquidity problems and higher risk in financial markets.
- A 2009 study published by the Harvard Business Review suggested, “…the majority of people say they trust a stranger more than they trust their boss.”
Who Is Responsible for Trust?
Ultimately leadership is responsible for the level of trust within an organization. Leadership owns the culture and accepts or rejects tolerance in beliefs, values and behavior within the organization. Ignoring these things is the enabler of distrust. Consider the following cultural attributes that creates distrust and if they are present in your organization eliminate them.
- The Cult of the Corner Office thrives: You know all the nice furniture, all the big decisions and the very representation of power being in the “corner office” speaks loudly to a separation of trusted vs. distrusted..
- The insider is a values-offender. You know the folks who control all the information and don’t share it accept with other insiders screams distrust.
- Blame is an art and science: You can never question decisions made by insiders because they are blameless while all problems come from the outsider willing workers.
- “Need to know” is the standard response to a request for information: The problem is that “need to know” catch phrases stem from the military and used to protect vital information to the few. It doesn’t apply in business unless you are controlling information which doesn’t build trust.
If your organization has these characteristics you have low trust. Without individual and collective trust nothing meaningful”binds” the human network together for a purpose.