Employees demonstrating trust in the workplace.

Creating a Culture of Trust

In its 2016 global CEO survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth.

Research supports the idea that a high level of trust in a company drives business performance by attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. 

How does building a culture of trust affect a company?

According to Paul J. Zak, in high-trust workplaces, 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

  • 40% less burnout

Zak’s research supports the findings by PwC that show, “… organisations that can build trust seem to garner significant benefits.”

If the benefits of trust are so clear, why is it that so many companies struggle with creating a culture of trust?

One reason is what international executive, and five-time author, Margaret Heffernan, calls, “willful blindness”.  It refers to a situation where, if an individual could have and should have known something, then the law treats it as if that person knew it. The claim of not knowing isn’t a sufficient defense.

Heffernan has researched this issue and suggests part of allowing willful blindness comes from companies who allow individuals or groups within their organization to manipulate the truth.

How is trust destroyed in a company?

Trust is destroyed in an organization when an individual or group of individuals manipulate the truth because the consequences of getting caught in a lie are less than the consequences of telling the truth.

No one speaks out for fear of retaliation and/or for fear of not being believed.

When this occurs and individuals observe this behavior going unaddressed or, worse, even encouraged morale drops. Employees quit sharing information that could potentially damage the company’s reputation and distrust quickly becomes the status quo.

I can recall hearing rumors when I worked at Enron that highlight how easily bad behavior was allowed to permeate the entire organization. Employees would go so far as to build a fake trading room to trick analysts into believing they were working on actual trades.  

One example of just how far deception and willful blindness had taken hold on Enron was the Blockbuster Inc. video on demand (VOD) deal. It was announced and 8 months later Blockbuster backed out.

The reality of the situation was the on-demand network had failed, yet Enron continued to estimate profits from the failed venture, even after the deal ended.

The results of a workplace where deception was built into the culture led Enron down a disastrous road.

Names in the newspaper, bankruptcy, loss in stock value, and damaged reputation, were just some of the damage inflicted on Enron but these things and more happen every day in companies both large and small.

From lack of innovation, increases in safety incidents and/or theft, to decreases in employee morale, there has never been more evidence than we have today that cultures, where trust runs deep, are also where companies find the highest rewards.

That’s why I now train others on how to create trust in the workplace.

I’ve seen first-hand what happens when deception is an organization’s norm and I want to help them to SPOT and STOP it and replace it with TRUTH and TRUST.

Organizational change doesn’t happen overnight and often, it requires approval and leadership from the top down. Once agreed to, however, companies can be transformed and businesses can build better workplace cultures.

If your organization is interested in learning how to create a culture of trust, let me know. I’d be happy to show you ways to stop workplace deception and replace it with truth and trust.

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