Mind the (Trust) Gap
Mind the (Trust) Gap
Employees' trust in management is lagging. More specifically: Leaders are getting low marks from employees for decision-making transparency, managing change, listening to employees, and learning from mistakes.
As the U.S. economy strengthens, however unevenly, business leaders are facing a central challenge with important implications: How are you bridging the trust gap with employees — the answer to this has broad implications for your business results.
What trust gap, you might ask?
Interaction Associates, through our Building Trust workplace surveys, has been monitoring trust issues for three years. Our 2011 survey has good news and bad news for senior leaders who are focused on results. First, the good news: Employee confidence is growing around issues like company financial health, leadership effectiveness, and organizational collaboration. In other words, companies are getting stronger; leaders are getting credit for navigating tough times; and employees are more willing to trust each other and collaborate.
But the bad news, which should be keeping leaders up at night, centers around a growing trust gap: Employees' trust in management is lagging. More specifically: Leaders are getting low marks from employees for decision-making transparency, managing change, listening to employees, and learning from mistakes. That’s the advance word on our 2011 survey; the findings themselves will be released soon.
Our Building Trust survey goes beyond just trust to include key indicators for leadership and collaboration — pointing to how high-performing companies achieve key business results by emphasizing all three. At Interaction Associates, we are in the business of helping clients achieve greater and more sustainable levels of business ROI by concentrating on a different ROI — Return on Involvement. We stress a critical principle for achieving excellent ROI: Involved employees share in the responsibility to deliver strong results. In other words, we know that deeply engaged employees and a collaborative culture of shared responsibility for success leads to impressive business results. Said more pointedly, from the employees' perspective, in highly collaborative and engaged workplaces: We care. We have skin in the game. We deliver results.
So, what about that trust gap? In terms of ROI as we measure it — employees who distrust leaders are not highly engaged; they don’t feel a shared responsibility for success – so no skin in the game, and no responsibility for results. Whether you know this intuitively or have read study after study over the last 10 years, there is no denying the 'engagement factor' can make or break your business. We believe that companies need to go beyond engagement to the place where everyone shares in the responsibility for executing the business plans and delivering results.
Return on Involvement is a simple but powerful concept that, when done properly, results in the traditional ROI: return on investment.
As a 25-year senior business executive with a strong bias for results, I know the importance of both ROI's — and I know how critical it is that leaders build trust with employees in order for teams to excel, to ensure everyone has more skin in the game and to deliver your business results.
I'll have more to say about business results in future blog posts. For now, I’ll close with a quick word about how honored I am to take the helm as President and CEO of Interaction Associates — a venerable firm of 40+ years of innovative consulting, coaching, and training solutions that help clients build excellent leadership cultures and strong ROI of all types.
Published on 06/17/11 10:11 AM