Trust in an organisation is the glue that holds the thing together.
Characteristics of a high trust organisation are these:
- Leaders serve their stakeholders and are positive role models;
- There is a high level of accountability to and support for stakeholders;
- There is a general feeling of ‘one team’ or ‘one family’;
- Ownership of the organisation and what it does builds through active engagement and empowerment of staff;
- There is a strong focus on frontline staff needs;
- Success is celebrated inclusively and consistently, with all contributors sharing in rewards;
- Learning is encouraged, as is experimentation and innovation;
- Mistakes are learning opportunities;
- Healthy risk-taking is encouraged, and everyone’s focus is continuous improvement;
- A collaborative approach to information and ideas is a norm;
- Sharing constructive feedback is another norm;
- Taking action related to the feedback is practised regularly and consistently;
- There is a consistent organisational approach to gauging staff performance and opinions, and affirmative action results from that feedback;
- The organisation recognises and promotes talent.
By contrast, the characteristics of a low trust organisation are these:
- Managers employ a top-down, rigid approach to hierarchy;
- Those managers are status-orientated and employ, or try to use position power;
- There will be a sense of ‘Them and Us’, and a widespread belief that authority is best not challenged;
- Managers will be remote from the front line and, when present, will be seen as spying, not supporting;
- Leaders will take credit for satisfactory performance, rather than sharing this appropriately;
- They will also take available rewards, whether in ‘perks’ or otherwise;
- They will often, quite shamelessly, be self-serving in their pursuit of position, or power, or recognition;
- Managers will punish mistakes, mete out blame, and scapegoat others to avoid responsibility;
- Managers will also be risk averse, and take a defensive position when uncertain of their ground;
- A result of this behaviour is hiding problems and issues, a reduction in learning and a retention of the status quo, which inhibits on-going improvement;
- This management approach leads to limited sharing of ideas and information, or even of sharing potential ideas for improvement;
- ‘Not rocking the boat’ is a favoured option for staff;
- Feedback is not encouraged, and conversations take a round-about fashion, rather than direct;
- That way it is easier to avoid offence or to raise difficult questions;
- Staff opinions are not valued, and any given receive limited follow-through; and,
- Talent might be either seen as a threat or an opportunity to promote self-interests;
- Either way, talented staff are controlled, rather than liberated.
Given the two comparisons, which do you lead? What actions could you take to develop a more high trust organisation? What help do you need to do that?
[Tweet “The trust of people in leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people. – Paulo Freire”]
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