A big takeaway during this year’s Great Place to Work conference was that transparency builds trust. And that trust is often broken when the organization does things that are contrary to their culture. Because culture tells customers, candidates, and employees what to expect. Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush talked about it in the context of creating a “great place to work for ALL”, not only for a majority.
But every once in a while, stuff happens and trust is broken. We can’t simply ignore it or wish it would fix itself. When trust is compromised, we have to take steps to repair the situation. During one of the conference sessions, a company very bravely shared some of the things they did to repair trust within their organization.
Admit mistakes. I’m sure we both know plenty of organizations that refuse to admit error. They may spin a conversation to make it sound like a mistake was a calculated decision. In today’s business world, authentic and transparent reactions can yield positive outcomes. Make a mistake? Admit it.
Role reversal. I really liked this option. When employees ask “Why does so-and-so always have to do this?” or “Why does the process have to be this way?”, give individuals the opportunity to walk in another person’s shoes. It might help them understand why a decision was made or not made.
Solicit feedback at all levels. We know this, right? When asking for feedback, carefully consider a blend of anonymous and non-anonymous formats. It might take accepting and acting upon some anonymous feedback to rebuild trust to the level where non-anonymous feedback is acceptable and embraced.
Listen and fix the problem. One of the worst things companies can do is ask for feedback and not do anything with it. In fact, when it comes to trust, that could be a major reason for the breakdown. If companies are serious about repairing trust, they need to take action.
Hold people accountable. Speaking of taking action, in my opinion, the most important step a person or company can take to repair trust is holding themselves and their teams accountable for all of the previous steps. Be a person of your word. Take steps that align with the company culture, so the trust breakdown doesn’t happen again.
The naïve part of me wants to believe that people and companies don’t set out to intentionally deceive others. But we know that’s not always true. However, there are times when trust is broken unintentionally. During those moments, we might want to give others the opportunity to regain our trust and build a stronger working relationship.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby while attending the Great Place to Work Conference1