A colleague recently sent me the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2023 Trust Survey
Key findings from the survey:
- 91% of business executives say their ability to build and maintain trust improves the bottom line.
- 46% of employees whose company had a trust-damaging event in the last year say they expected it.
- 84% of business executives think that customers highly trust the company, yet only 27% of customers say the same.
- Almost 80% of business executives say their employees trust the company, but only 65% of employees agree.
- About half of consumers (50%) and employees (54%) report experiencing a trust-damaging event. But only 20% of business executives say their organization has been involved in this type of incident.
What struck me about these findings from an executive development perspective, is the discrepancy between the consumer and employee perspectives and the leadership perspective. Small acts can build or damage trust in big ways. The report also states that employees may be the key to learning what businesses should be paying attention to because they are eyewitnesses internally and externally and they often don’t feel their voices are heard at the highest levels of the organization.
To see these results in a survey pale in comparison to experiencing them regularly. Day to day trust building, in all the small ways, is something leaders and organizations must invest in. How? Trust is most successfully built, maintained, and/or repaired through conversations and the collection of many small actions over time. While the end result will be the most productive and satisfied workforce, stakeholders, and customers you have ever seen, it cannot be rushed or simply put into an initiative. The biggest enemy of trust is empty promises. “Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.” – Stephen Covey
High Trust organizations are outperforming others. A recent Harvard Business Review Study reported:
“People at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout than people at low-trust companies
In contrast, employees at low-trust organizations are often bogged down by office politics and infighting. They are more likely to withhold information and hoard resources because they don’t feel safe sharing them. As a result, decision making is slower and less effective.”
How to Start the Conversation:
Listen inside the organization as much as you listen to customers and stakeholders. Trust may take decades to build but can be lost in a flash. Customer-facing employees and managers know a lot about what is happening and are often not heard or considered when making strategic business decisions.
Building safe channels and forums of communication is important in fostering psychological safety. It is more important now, than ever, for employees at all levels to feel empowered to find their voice about a wide array of issues affecting the workplace.
Having a strong purpose and defined set of core values surfaced as having heightened importance in this years survey. Perhaps the drastically unpredictable landscape of the past four years has brought meaningful visionary work to the forefront of building a strong foundation of trust in your organization.
With the huge influx new technologies and AI into organizations, evolution is central to the health of the business. But changing with the times isn’t enough to build trust. Leaders must look at responsible, stable and fair ways to implement generative AI so that the risks and threats it may pose don’t damage trust.
To revisit last month’s blog, retaining trust during layoffs is a key driver as layoffs can be trust-damaging events if not handled with intention. Even when headcount reduction is happening, trust building is possible through communication, generosity, and transparency.
One of the results of the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2023 Trust Survey that stood out to me is that senior leadership are often harder on themselves than anyone, scoring themselves more harshly than others score them in may interpersonal categories. There is no doubt that so far, in this decade, leading is not for the faint of heart. You work hard every day to Listen, Build, Define, Become, and Honor TRUST. Thank you for trusting me to take this journey with you. As organizations move through this time, remember, as leaders, the words of Maya Angelou:
“Have enough courage to trust … one more time and always one more time.”