By Cindy Vallance
What do surveys about asset management firms and the NHS have to do with the topic of trust?
As outlined in an April 2012 Harvard Business Review blog, more than 100 asset management firms around the world were surveyed for the strength of their cultures and for the effectiveness of their leadership teams. One of the top success factors was that “There is a high level of trust among team members. ”
Those conducting the survey stated “Over time, the team must develop trust by having clear rules of engagement and accountabilities. This trust then allows the team members to move beyond “politically correct” conversation or “politically incorrect” confrontation to fruitful debate and dialogue…leaders show an unusual commitment to getting the trust factor right. Our interpretation of this is that it relates to other surveys of investment professionals which indicate that their top desire for improvement in their firms is to achieve more open communication and debate…these cannot occur in environments with low trust.”
On the other hand, a March 2012 People Management blog reported on the results of a recent NHS survey. Here the results highlighted that “the survey identifies a lack of trust in managers’ abilities which undermines trust and could stall change.”
The comparison of these two surveys reinforce the importance of trust for organisational success. If we reflect on the four aspects of trust highlighted in my last blog: ability, benevolence, integrity and predictability, how can we improve on any that are lacking?
Ability – this aspect of trust is perhaps the most straight forward to rectify, although not necessarily easy. Providing or taking advantage of training and guidance and then identifying specific goals and working towards these over time should improve ability.
Benevolence – to increase benevolence it is critical to get rid of any sense that either party has a hidden agenda and instead highlight areas of common interest and mutual benefit.
Integrity – increasing integrity requires a willingness to engage in open discussion to arrive at common principles and to set boundaries for mutual expectations.
Predictability – only the repeated demonstration of positive behaviours will help others to be confident that what they have seen in the past will be repeated in the present and future.
The reality is that trust and distrust are not opposite ends of the spectrum. The same person can be trusted or distrusted in different areas. I may trust my accountant to get me a good tax rebate but I certainly wouldn’t trust her to perform brain surgery on me. In my next blog, I will discuss different types of trust.
In the meantime, are you currently facing any situations where you could work to improve some aspect of trust?
This post is part of the HBR Insight Center on The Secrets of Great Teams. Do take a look at their other posts for practical team building ideas.