Increasing trust to drive high performance

Joanna Boxer

The foundation of any successful team, and organisation for that matter, is trust. In a hybrid working world, it is more important than ever to create connection, yet it remains a struggle for many businesses, with damaging effects on engagement, productivity, and performance. But what exactly do we mean by trust, how can you increase it, and what impact will that have on your company?

Trust adds up

When we talk about trust we refer to David Maister’s Trust Equation from his book 'The Trusted Advisor'. In it, he defines Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy ÷ Self-Orientation. In short, it comes down to whether you think the person you are dealing with is knowledgeable, can be counted on to deliver, and is someone you feel you can be open with – all of which are set against whether you feel they are more motivated by their own self-interest or serving others.

Transforming trust among leaders

If you don't trust one another, then many other ingredients for successful culture change will fail – for example, the ability to empower others. To increase trust, we work with leadership teams to analyse where relationships are most commonly breaking down. Once we understand the root causes, we design specific interventions targeted at improving those connections. For example, if trust is being eroded due to a perceived lack of reliability, we may focus on increasing accountability.

With culture change, your organisation is typically aspiring to a different state, and there will be disruption along the way. Post pandemic, it is vital that leadership teams spend time together face-to-face, even just a day regularly. If it’s well-designed and well-facilitated, it will enable difficult conversations, encourage authenticity, and help to forge deeper bonds. I guarantee that such a session will transform trust among your group.

Trust will accelerate culture change

It’s remarkable how a real focus on trust can shift the dynamic within your leadership team, which in turn will change your organisation. As you know, culture change will create some turbulence in your business. If you have established that bedrock of trust with your team, you will not only get through it, but lead through it to ensure you create the culture you need to deliver on your strategy.

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