Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Trust

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"...Trust is an outcome, it is not the origin. Trust is based on the shared values and norms that are expressed in a concrete social relationship. Those shared norms can come from a lot of places - they can be based on religion or shared history. Trust relationships are structured by cultural relationships. (But also) humans are extremely social creatures who have been given cognitive capabilities to learn how to interact and to build on reciprocity - that is hard wired into us. So trust also arises simply out of your day-to-day experience of working with people. But it is something you can deplete if you are opportunistic. It is not a one-way street. It goes in cycles. It can be depleted and then you can rebuild it..."

Francis Fukuyama as quoted by AFRBoss, 2002

. Connectedness is about trust. There are 2 sides to trust:

- outward looking ‐ grows from one's past experiences with the external world

- inward looking ‐ comes from one's own history, particularly from childhood experiences

. Organisational openness and transparency contributes to building an environment of trust.

. This means:

-all staff have ready access to all the organisation's information

- an open and transparent decision-making process

- creating mutual dependence and reciprocity in the organisational environment

At 3M, for example, technologists in more than 100 labs around the world work openly and easily with one another without secrecy, protectiveness, or a "not invented here"syndrome, which often inhibits free exchange in other organisations

There is a need to communicate openly and honestly with staff, without distorting information, as well as showing confidence in staff's ability by treating them as skilled and competent

. There are 3 critical areas that have a direct impact on the levels of trust:

1 Payment system ‐ few subjects create as much controversy and distrust as compensation. If people believe that the organisation's objective is to pay them as little as possible, their lack of trust will spill over into related areas and a vicious cycle of distrust begins. Ways to ensure your compensation system is consistent and honest include:

- sharing information as appropriate ‐ individuals have a right to know the salary range for the particular job categories and to see how high their compensation will be if they make it to the top of the range.

- make merit pay decisions based on fair, objective data or a reflection of actual performance levels. Nothing is more frustrating or more damaging to trust in the workplace than perceived favoritism.

- if possible, make bonus systems fair and quantifiable in order to avoid the necessity of discretionary or unilateral decisions on bonus amounts. Share and bonus system to reward staff for low absenteeism, quality of work, efficiency, productivity, health and safety standards plus loyalty dinners to celebrate staff milestones

- conduct internal equity comparisons for the same or similar jobs. If 2 people in the same job have similar backgrounds and experience but receive significantly different salaries, trust is quickly eroded. It is also advisable to make external equity comparisons. If an organisation under-pays, it runs the risk of losing good people

2 Work environment ‐ where people work plays a significant part in the perceptions of how the organisation cares about them. Office decor, type of furniture, carpeting and windows all communicate how much the organisation cares about the staff's sense of comfort and satisfaction with the place they work. Surroundings don't have to be luxurious, but staff need to feel comfortable and relaxed. If management has significantly more extravagant furnishings, its credibility and trust level is at risk.

As important is atmosphere within the organisation. A negative atmosphere can create ripples of discontent that extinguish any hope of developing or enhancing trust

3 Leadership is one of most powerful ways to develop trust. The heavy demands on performance by different stakeholders can put undue pressure on trust-building. Some suggestions to build trust via leadership style

- welcome open communications

- be positive

- seek ideas from others

- be a good listener

- encourage dialogue

- "don't shoot the messenger"

- be consistent

- lead by example, ie "walk the talk"(A leader's trustworthiness is encouraged by a number of actions, and some of these are within your power)

- do what you say, ie keep your promises and commitments

- listen to people carefully and tell them what you think they are saying, ie make sure you understand

- understand what matters to people and work hard to protect whatever is related to that, ie look after people's best interests

- share yourself honestly, ie admitting to an untrustworthy action is itself a trust-inducing insight

- ask for feedback and acknowledge unasked-for feedback on the subject of your own trustworthiness, ie regard it as valuable information

- don't try to push others to trust you further than you trust them, ie trust is mutual or it is not genuine trust

- try extending your trust of others a little further, ie trustworthy people are more trusting

- don't confuse being trustworthy with "being a buddy", ie trust does not automatically come with friendship

- don't be surprised if your trust-building project is viewed with suspicion, ie mistrust is a form of self-protection and no one readily gives up self-protection

. Transactional trust (see following diagram) allows people in an organisation to work more effectively, and as a result, is one of the most important determinants and drivers of improved performance and an organisation's success. There are 3 sub-sets to this function in an organisation

- communication trust ( or trust of disclosure), ie the extent to which staff are willing to share information

- contractual trust (or trust of character), ie staff members' faith in one another's integrity and ability to keep agreements

- competence trust (or trust of capability), ie staff members' respect for one another's ability.

These 3 subsets contribute to the general sense of transactional trust which promotes mutually-trusting relationships and sets the basis for effective organisational transitions.

 

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