Breakdowns in trust often result from a lack of clarity in: decision-making authority, delegation and empowerment, employee engagement and transparency, and incomplete feedback loops. Growing businesses must be deliberate in building trust across and up and down the organization. If you fear that a lack of trust is killing your business, you can do something to fix it! Sponsor a Trust Program. Once established, the trust program will include training for Leadership, Managers and Supervisors and Staff.

This kind of effort must be aimed at ensuring that you establish trust across the entire business. When accomplished, trust becomes an essential underpinning of the firm's culture. And when that happens, unbridled innovation and success can follow.

Early trust-building efforts should be aimed at your Senior Leadership Team. Once built, it can be followed by initiatives intended to address the management / staff trust dynamic and cross-unit trust development.

Here's how it can work:

  • Trust Level Assessment: Determine where you are on the trust maturity curve. Are your people empowered, or are they second-guessed at every turn? Do you talk a good fight about trust or are you meddling in every decision? The answer to these questions are not determined by you. Poll your team and staff and take the pulse of where you truly sit on the curve.
  • Trust Framework, Principles and Values: These must be established next. The answers are determined on where you sit on the curve. High trust organizations will drive out exceptional empowerment always to front-line staff. Lower trust organizations will need to start at a place where the management team works at building their trust among their peers.
  • Trust Toolkit and Training Materials: Again, these depend on where you sit on the curve. The toolkit can be aimed at leaders if you're trust level is weak. Higher trust assessment enables your training to be aimed at lower levels of the organization.
  • Training and Development Plans: Regardless of your starting point, it's wise to create personalized trust development plans for your entire organization. You can do that at the grade-level bans or, if feasible, at the individual level. But, to do that further trust assessment would be required - you'll need to understand where each person is on the trust curve.
  • Trust Measurement Plan and Progress Milestones: How do you know if you're making headway? It's wise to determine measurement criteria and define progress milestones before you begin the trust-building program. These measurements and milestones should center on changes in behaviors up and down the organization. A additional polling of staff following the completion of early initiatives is an appropriate way to assess the successful evolution towards building a higher trust culture.

To close, don't be surprised if the work needed to set your trust program into motion requires 3 to 4 months. In fact, you can figure that a small, 4 or 5 person team (with some help from outside experts) will be necessary to get the job done of assessing and planning your trust program. But, once the program is moving, its benefits will be immediately felt as more empowered and inspired work place emerges. Feel free to reach out to me directly, if you'd like to bounce around some ideas on how to builder greater trust in your organization.

Published on: Apr 10, 2017
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.