Do you lead a high trust organisation?

Trust in an organisation is the glue that holds the thing together.

Man on a mountain topThe better the level of trust the stronger relationships are, the greater the productivity of the team, and the more successful the organisation is.

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?

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