Building trust should be a priority on every chief executive’s agenda, yet CEOs around the world fear a worrying decline in confidence, according to Matt Graham, writing for Strategy+Business.
A recent survey by PwC Australia found that 65% of CEOs felt trust in business was on a downward trend, although only 18% thought that concern applied to their own company.
TRUST IN ACTION
To illustrate what thorough trust looks like, Graham cites a dramatic incident in which an engine exploded on a Quantas flight and the captain safely landed the plane with 469 passengers and crew on board. The pilot was quick to attribute the successful handling of the emergency to the airline’s entire team, saying: “That is not luck. My airline has spent money, and we’ve done the hard work.”
The point here is that if your employees believe in your honest intent, then consumers will too. So how do you start to fix the potential deficit of trust among your employees, your customers and your investors?
Graham says the first step in turning that tide of opinion is to “start by being more transparent”. Begin by asking yourself about your organisation’s culture and the messages you put out as a leader.
ASSESS YOUR TRUST CULTURE
Here are four prudent questions that will give you some food for thought:
1) Do you regularly broadcast your company’s values? Getting out a clear message about what matters to the organisation is really important if you want to raise trust levels.
“Qantas, for example, has spent years cultivating a culture of genuine concern for customer safety, and this theme of care for others has been repeated in its company messaging.”
2) Do you actively promote openness yourself? As a leader, you have the power to inspire a culture of honesty and encourage employees to follow suit. Be a visible communicator among the workforce and make it clear that you’re happy to be approached by anyone in the organisation who has concerns or issues to raise.
3) Does your administration have a clear overview of the organisation? A healthy system of governance will spot weaknesses in reporting, promote healthy debate, and challenge executives over decisions and outcomes. This underlines a climate of transparency both inside and outside the company.
4) Does your organisation make full use of technology? Data analysis can offer you countless insights into your business. Developments like artificial intelligence and machine learning are constantly expanding opportunities to identify patterns and anomalies. Being seen to take action on this information is a source of improve trust.
“For example, data applied to a payroll system could provide a detailed analysis of pay imbalances between genders, companies must be willing to share these types of results – good or bad – with their stakeholders and explain how they’re acting on them.”
Asking yourself these questions and providing honest answers is the first step on a journey towards improved transparency. Armed with the right information, it’s then possible to spread a fresh culture of trust through your organisation and buck the perceived downward trend.