The 2018 Trust Verdict is in – The Results Are Dire. Will You Turn Trust Around?
Posted inLeadership Topics
onApril 20th, 2018
- Updated onApril 23, 2018 - 8:19am
As Ashley Fulmer flagged in her HBR article, Employees Who Trust Their Managers Are More Likely to Trust Their CEOs (referencing the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer):
"These results are worrisome because within the organization, trust in organizational leaders is linked to employees’ intention to stay, compliance with strategic decisions, and unit performance."
In this post, we'll explore the latest research findings on the state of trust, the hopeful news we've uncovered from the business world, and important steps organizations and their leaders can take to restore trust in business.
As Paul J. Zak argues in The Neuroscience of Trust,
"Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance."
Trust in 2018
- Trust in companies headquartered in the U.S. has dropped five points from 55% to 50% in the last year alone, down from 61% in 2014 and well below companies based in Canada and Switzerland at 68% and 67%, respectively.
- 60% of respondents believe CEOs are driven more by greed than a desire to make a positive difference in the world.
A Bit of Good News
- There is an increase in confidence in experts and academics over peer-to-peer sharing of information, perhaps driven by the trends noted above. Those with credentials gain in trust while peer-to-peer information and social media platforms drop.
- There is a recovering belief in CEOs. This has increased from 37 % to 44%. This rise is attributed to CEOs speaking out on issues that matter. Interestingly:
- 70% of respondents stated that the number one job of CEOs is to build trust.
- Two-thirds of those surveyed say they want CEOs to take the lead on policy changes rather than waiting for governments to act.
Leaders, Do Something. Silence and Inaction are No Longer Options
- Strengthen trust-building skills of frontline leaders through training. In their research study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Cheri Ostroff and Ashley Fulmer found that trust transferred up in the organization. When frontline leaders exhibited behaviors that were perceived to reveal high procedural justice (e.g., making decisions in an unbiased manner and listening to followers’ concerns), employees trusted their frontline leaders and in turn, had more trust in senior organizational leaders. In other words, trust trickles up.
- Manage for trust. Through his experiments and the surveys, Paul J. Zak has identified eight management behaviors that foster trust, including sharing information broadly and intentionally building relationships.
- Putting people first. Our recent post, Trust in Crisis: Can Leaders Upend the Trend this Year? offers positive steps leaders can take to improve trust within their organizations while standing firm and speaking out against the erosion of trust in our vital institutions.
CEOs Can Be Activists in Restoring Trust – With Planning and Care
- Carefully determine what issues to weigh in on. Work with an executive team to think through the implications of any public stance, then take on only those issues of importance to the industry, to the community, to one’s conscience, or to the brand.
- Determine the best time to weigh in based on the potential impact derived. Timing is everything.
- Determine how to best weigh in. Is a sole voice from a powerful CEO in a well-known firm going to hold more weight, or will a coalition of like-minded CEOs speaking with one voice going to have the most leverage over a situation?
- Don’t go it alone. Consult with boards, employee groups or other key stakeholders before making a public stand.