Our society is becoming more mistrustful.
We don’t believe every media headline we click, we take world leaders’ words with a grain of salt and we know we’re being fed a whole lot of garbage on social media.
So, what does this current environment of mistrust mean for your business? Companies need to be proactive and intentional about gaining respect. Trust doesn’t “just happen” as a result of doing good business.
But first, you have to ask yourself: should you care if people trust your company? Well, let’s take a look at why it might be a good thing:
The more people trust you, the less you have to do a hard sell and the more people will seek out your products.
Trust makes it easier to attract and retain great staff.
When your community trusts you, it becomes easier to work through a disruption such as an expansion or construction project that requires consultation and consent.
With increased trust, influential people begin spreading positive word-of-mouth and doing the trust-building work for you.
And, perhaps most importantly, a high trust quotient means when you screw up – and you will, we all do – it will be easier and quicker to rebuild trust.
I was recently listening to a podcast featuring University of Houston research professor Brené Brown. She was discussing an excerpt from her book, Rising Strong, about how individuals can earn trust.
Her recommendations got me thinking of some essentials that corporates must follow if they need to build more trust. Here are a few things I personally think are quite important:
Protect and build your circle of trust
You become a trusted organisation when you have other trustworthy, respected organisations working with you and around you. Be purposeful in fostering great relationships with good organisations.
Don’t associate with companies with shaky reputations – over time, it will rub off on you.
Under-promise and over-deliver
We learn to trust organisations over time who do what they say. If you promise your staff you’ll celebrate when KPIs are achieved, you’d better do it. If you say you’ll meet an important deadline, do it and tell people you’ve done it.
When your staff, customers and corporate friends see your word is gold, trust will follow.
Say sorry when you screw up
Your mum’s advice works in the corporate world too. If you’ve done something wrong, own up to it quickly. Say you’re sorry, tell people how you intend to fix it, do it and tell people when you’ve fixed it.
It’s a pretty simple formula on paper, but tough to implement when crunch time comes. However, watch the trust bank fill up quickly when you’re able to eat a bit of humble pie.
At a basic level integrity is about demonstrating externally who you are internally. So, as a company, that means having strong values. And then the second step is demonstrating those values to and through your staff, to your customers, suppliers, partners and community over and over again.
Integrity is an action word.
How do you know if you’re a trusted organisation? Ask. Ask your staff, ask your customers, ask influential people in your community.
Then, once you have a baseline measurement, create an action plan to build more trust if necessary. Or if you’re where you want to be, put some purposeful activities in place that serve to keep you in a healthy trust maintenance mode.