Openess, Honesty and Trust are key always key words on any cultural strategy and is presented in to customers via most brands out there. How real is it?
Trust is built up over time. Trust between people or brands comes when you feel they listen to you, that they have your best interests at heart, and they make you feel safe. Trust takes time to build, but seconds to come crashing down.
Very few organisations and businesses I have dealt with out there show real trust, but is it really intentional? From my experience, being a trusted business means living and breathing trust from leaders, to peers, to customers and stakeholders.
Old business philosophy worked on politics, keeping your cards close to your chest and every man for themselves. Yet where did that really get us? It has caused distrust with brands, customers and stakeholders. It is how many of us learned the art of business, and is so ingrained that we don’t even see lack of trust anymore.
This 5 step guide to bringing trust into your organisation seems simple, but it is HARD.
1. Be honest
Have you ever been to a team briefing or a one to one with a colleague and get the feeling that they are telling you half-truths. That is probably because they are. They maybe telling you a little white lie to protect you, or putting a positive spin on the facts to boost morale. So even if their motives are well-meant, the opposite happens and causes more distrust and lower morale than before.
If you are giving the news, feedback or information, think about what you need to say and why? If there is information that you are unable to share, tell the receiver that. Being honest about what you can and can’t say takes courage, but never lie. You can always speak your feelings, they will always be true. For example, you may say that you have some news, you feel uncomfortable as you are not able to pass on all of the information right now, but what you can share is…. and the reason you are sharing it is because…..
2. Be Open
If you want your colleagues or team to be open with you, you need to start playing the game. If you are in a meeting and you ask for comments or opinions, listen to them and acknowledge them. Some maybe negative or unrealistic, however let your colleagues know that you have heard them. Don’t be dismissive, vague or blame, this will only create a closed culture. If you are open with them about your thoughts, feelings or restrictions, you will build openness and trust. You won’t be holding information back that may add value.
So the next time someone asks your opinion, give it in a constructive, open, and truthful way (don’t mask the truth). If you aren’t fine, don’t say that you are. If you aren’t ready to commit or agree, say so and explain why. Don’t pretend. Your closed responses will tell more to your audience than you realise.
3. Be reliable
If you say you are going to do something, do it. This is one of the key reasons customers cite for bad customer experience. Consistency and reliability in your words, actions and behaviours builds trust. Humans feel safe around reliability, habits and structures. The minute you start cancelling appointments, or fail to follow through on a commitment trust starts to erode. Once that part of the psychological contract is broken, it may never be fixed.
So if you say you are going to do something, keep your promise. If you can’t, don’t lie, be honest about why you can’t or when you maybe able to.
4. Don’t get involved in gossip
We have all been there, when someone tries to draw us into a conversation about someone else. If it is a constructive conversation with the view to help, support or resolve an issue, then of course, get involved. The minute is turns into gossip, opinions, or commenting just for the sake of it steer clear. This negative behaviour is contagious and caused huge distrust amongst colleagues and peers.
Lead the behaviour. If you want honesty and openness rather then quit the corner gossip sessions.
5. Call others on their behaviours.
If you truly want to work in an open, honest and trusted organisation, you need to lead in that way. If you see any behaviours that work against the culture, call them out. Call out the elephant in the room or ask someone what they really mean, or what they aren’t saying. If your gut tells you there is something else going on, another agenda, then you will be right.
Calling someone on their behaviour doesn’t mean being aggressive or confrontational. It means that you can ask powerful, open and exploring questions to get to the heart of the matter. There is usually and underlying issue at play.