What many a business manager and supposed leader will often forget, is the need to focus efforts on building trust and honesty through all layers of operation. Without full trust and honesty no business can perform at its best, people will take information “with a pinch of salt” and interpret it in many ways, rather than simply accepting it as truthful and honest. Unfortunately building trust and honesty is difficult but the example must be set at the highest levels and filtered through otherwise everything done lower down will be pointless. An excellent opening quote from a recent article helps to illustrate the real problems relating to lack of trust:
“Almost everywhere we turn, trust is on the decline. Trust in our culture at large, in our institutions, and in our companies is significantly lower than a generation ago. Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information. Consider the loss of trust and confidence in the financial markets today. Indeed, “trust makes the world go ’round,” and right now we’re experiencing a crisis of trust.”
(From How the Best Leaders Build Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey)
A few other good quotes that I feel help to highlight the seriousness and importance of the need for trust and honesty include:
“Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist.”
By Mary Kay Ash
“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”
By Brian Tracy
“The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold.”
The Result and Cost of Failing Trust and Honesty
The ability to put a quantifiable result or financial measure as to failing levels of trust and honesty is extremely difficult within any organisation. But by simply focusing on it, much information and data will start to become apparent, and gradually numbers can start to be put against these elements.
The worst thing that will often result amongst poor management is to assume people are lazy, stupid and ignorant and this will create the largest element of mistrust and dishonest actions being undertaken. The many negative actions and resultant cost implications include:
- A value can certainly be put against “lost stock” which in reality may have been stolen or damaged by employees who then fail to own up to his fact.
- Fraud will tend to take place to some degree in all operations, exact values will vary across company and industry types, but in the USA an average of 6% of revenue is believed lost to fraudulent activities.
- Abuse of expenses and claiming unnecessarily for things not used or required is very common amongst management and senior levels in business. The typical action is to put everything on expenses regardless of necessity (a form of fraudulent behaviour).
- Personal greed and power, looking after oneself rather than what’s best for all is far too common in many companies, this only backfires over time.
- Broken promises are a regular occurrence from management levels. If you can’t keep the promise don’t make it in the first place, because future promises will become more transparent and have no status with people.
- Decisions, information and communication are slow to disperse and disseminate in companies with low trust levels, often resulting in misconstrued information and wasted time and energies.
- So all mistrust adds an extra work, time and finance cost into all relevant areas affected. The lower the trust level the higher the time lost and higher the cost incurred.
The Route to Establishing Greater Trust & Honesty
Any change that assists a company to establish better trust is movement in the right direction, but it’s a process of gradually re-building trust until total trust across all levels and operations results. To be able to influence your teams and offer quality leadership, will require you to build up the right characteristics, competency and performance and ultimately be trusted by all, and this can be helped by developing reliability and integrity in everything you say and do. The more you learn to trust others, the more they are likely to learn to trust you.
For a company to be successful at improving its trust levels it will need to start by setting this as an overall goal or objective for all levels of employees (top to bottom), which must be part of an appraisal and monitoring system (preferably with set guidance on how to measure). As trust develops in each person, their actions, reputation, reliability and authority will visibly be seen as improving, therefore helping limit wasted time and energies. Many actual behaviours or manners have been categorised as being a common and natural part of trusted leaders, but the behaviours will need to be appropriately balanced and offset with each other to achieve best practice, such behaviours include:
- Straight talking – giving regular clear and easy to understand messages / communications and feedback to relevant parties
- Demonstrating respectfulness – for everyone at work and connected operations, avoiding rudeness and ignorance in what is said and done
- Creating transparency – including greater freedom of speech, encouraging simplicity and not making promises that can’t be kept
- Righting the wrongs – by initialising change and improvement where needed and writing off the erroneous events of the past
- Showing loyalty – offering support to all around you and don’t ever go behind people’s backs
- Delivering results and performance – constant movement forward and achieving targets and expectations
- Getting better and keep improving – continue along the improvement path constantly
- Confronting reality – always be sensible and realistic through your approach taking everything necessary into consideration
- Clarifying expectations – keep up to date records through all processes, discuss, agree and confirm what is required and the next stages required upon completion
- Practicing accountability – being responsible and answerable for your results and installing this responsibility through your team and colleagues for their results
- Listening first – learning to take in information first before interpreting it and making decisions and taking actions
- Keeping commitments – always stick to what you have said and agreed, avoiding any unnecessary deviation
- Extending trust – be constantly building trust through all levels and connections by leading the way
For any organisation to grow and develop effectively and function in the most productive way, it is critical for it to build high levels of trust and honesty throughout their business and connected supply chain operations. Once these levels of trust are in place most companies will see very good improvements in how people interact and work together, with ideas and knowledge being shared, support and assistance will become evermore free flowing. Ultimately people’s skills and experiences will develop and improve, and their happiness, job satisfaction and motivations will be much higher than normal resulting in lower levels of staff turnover.
An honest trustworthy and happy workforce can result in a productive, efficient and effective company.