Setting the standard on trust
For a number of years now public trust in our institutions and organisations has been on a very slippery slope, hurtling downwards. The descent was accelerated by the global financial crisis of 2008.
And whilst trust is central to our work at azzur given its fundamental role in healthy, vibrant and high functioning organisational culture a couple of recent incidents have reminded me of its importance.
The first involved a friend’s house being burgled and a response by her insurance company that has been slow, obstructive, and accusatory – insinuating a plan to defraud – adding to the distress of the situation. On a much larger scale Japanese company Kobe Steel has admitted falsifying figures about the strength and durability of its aluminium and copper products used in cars, aircraft, space rockets and defence equipment. In some cases the material is part of safety critical components.
In each case trust is something of an elusive quality which begs a question about the cultures in the organisations involved. If an organisation leads its customer interactions with a presumption of guilt that’s a function of culture.
As leaders culture starts with us – our thoughts, behaviours and actions both seed and nourish it for good or bad. So when failures of trust such as these occur we have to look to ourselves and to the standards we set.
By being trustworthy we set a standard. By leading with trust we set a standard. If our default is untrustworthy and mistrusting of course then we set a standard too. We have to get our own house in order, being really honest with ourselves about our relationship with trust and particularly the circumstances under which that comes under pressure and goes negative.
Once we’ve got this clear and strengthened our trust resilience we can start to develop a zero tolerance policy on anything that undermines trust in our team, across the organisation, with customers and wider society. Of course we can’t do it alone but that’s the point of setting the right standard in the first place and living up to it.