The importance of the level of trust between employer and employee cannot be understated. When business owners don’t trust the people who take care of their company, trouble is not far away.
For any business to succeed, it is essential that it create a culture of trust. In previous posts, we’ve discussed how creating a positive work environment helps grow your business and gives you effective (and affordable ) ideas to help motivate employees.
In this post, we’ll examine what it takes to create a culture of trust in your company.
However, there’s a lot more to be said on this topic. We also need to take a serious look at the other side of the coin, so stick around. In the next post, we’ll address:
- What happens when there is a breakdown of trust in the employment relationship?
- How do you handle an employee stealing from the company?
- How can you prevent future employee theft?
- Is it possible to manage someone you don’t trust and work towards restoring that employee relationship?
Small business owners eventually face these questions is one way or another, so let’s dive in and help you get prepared so you can hopefully avoid the severe damage that a breach of employee trust can create.
How to Create a Culture of Trust
As we’ve said before, you and your managers set the tone for the kind of culture your company has. Therefore, when you strive to create a culture of trust, it is vital that you be someone who can be trusted. Once your employees see from your attitude and actions that they can depend on you to be true to your word and simply do the right thing with integrity, you become trustworthy.
Instill those values in your top leadership, and hold them accountable when you see them deviating even slightly. They, in turn, will begin to expect the same behavior from their direct reports, and eventually, trustworthiness will become a part of your company’s DNA.
How to Build Trust in an Organization
Building trust in an organization doesn’t just happen. It has to be intentional. Here are two resources we recommend:
Charles H. Green, author of “The Trusted Advisor” (and founder of the organization by the same name), tells a story of a moment early in his career that helped shape his thinking.
He was already nervous about a sales presentation to an important client, and it didn’t help that his boss was also present. During the pitch, the client interrupted to ask “what experience do you folks have doing sandpaper marketing?”
Thrown for a loop and not prepared with any sort of acceptable answer (that’s not what his company specialized in), Charles began to stumble through what he calls “a round-about, MBA-talk” response. He was probably hoping to fill the space with enough words to satisfy the client and steer the conversation back to his presentation.
His boss, however, spoke up and simply said, “none that I can think of.”
Typically, when you tell a potential customer that you can’t do something it means that they will choose to give their business to someone else who can. But instead of walking away, the client was impressed enough with the boss’ honesty that he stayed and they were able to talk about what the company could provide.
At that moment, Charles’ boss established his company as trustworthy…not only in the eyes of that client but in the eyes of one of his young employees. With 6 words, he helped build trust in his organization.
The point of telling that story is this: If being trustworthy is part of who you are, making it part of the company you run won’t be that hard.
Charles obviously benefited from the trust that was a part of the company he worked for. So much so that he went on to write a best-selling book on the subject!
Years after writing “Trusted Advisor”, Charles H. Green streamlined its concepts into a simple formula to help leaders measure their “Trust Quotient” (or TQ). Much like an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient) score, your TQ measures how trust-able you seem to others.
According to Green, trust is made up of 4 factors:
- Credibility – what you say and how much others believe you
- Reliability – how dependably you follow through on what you say you’ll do
- Intimacy – how comfortable people feel sharing things with you
- Self-orientation – how aware you are of how you come across to others in the first 3 categories
(For more information on Charles and his company or to take their free 20-question TQ test, take a look at Trusted Advisor Associates.)
The TQ test is a helpful tool for letting leaders gauge how trustworthy they appear. However, it is subjective. The results are based purely on answers you provide about yourself.
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For a more scientific approach to measuring trust, it would be worth your time to check out the work of neuroscientist Paul J. Zak who wrote “The Trust Factor” in 2017. In it, he gives interesting insights that he gathered from his research on how the chemical oxytocin motivates people toward cooperation and trustworthiness.
His earlier work had studied the effects of oxytocin on people in general. In “The Trust Factor” he focused on how the body’s natural release of oxytocin in response to stimuli in the workplace could affect employee engagement.
An article from Clairmont Graduate University on “The Trust Factor”, where Zak is a professor of Economics, Psychology, and Management, says he found that “employees who engage in behaviors that increase oxytocin levels of their colleagues are not only more engaged and productive, they enjoy work substantially more.”
They further report that his work delivers “specific and actionable ways that organizations can design and manage their cultures, improving collaboration, profitability, and employee retention. Rather than trying to increase employee engagement with karaoke Fridays or taco Tuesdays, Trust Factor uses the latest neuroscience to create cultures where work has meaning and employees are empowered with the freedom to excel.”
(For more, take a look at a TED talk Zak did on “Trust, morality…and oxytocin?”.)
Building Trust With Employees is Essential…We Can Help
For over 40 years, we’ve helped small businesses and nonprofits all across West Tennessee (Jackson, Dyersburg, Brownsville, Milan…and now the new Blue Oval City) grow companies that create great cultures for their employees and value for their customers.
If you’re ready to “expect more from your CPA” and discover how our business experts can help you build trust with your employees, schedule a call.