What’s Trust Got to Do With It?

A recent comment from one of my professional friends on LinkedIn got me thinking about trust – something we seem to be lacking in society these days. Rebecca Charbauski, a Communications Project Leader at Steelcase who previously served as the WOOD-TV8 News Director, referred to me as a “trusted partner” in a post about my new business venture. 

Trust is a big word to me. I worked in broadcast journalism for nearly 30 years before becoming a communications consultant. In my experience, trust has the power of an Infinity Stone, there’s no character value that’s more important. Richard Barrett, a global guru on values-based leadership, published a great article in 2019. In it he looked at the impact trust and distrust have on companies and organizations. Trust, he wrote, “is the glue that holds people together.” 

I decided to follow up with Rebecca because she has tremendous street cred in the communications industry. I wanted to get her take on trust. She explained, “a trusted partner is a guide over time – someone who knows what you need, even if you don’t.” She added that trust comes from a pattern of “reliability and quality”, and that it is “not transactional.” 

I also talked with a professional friend of mine in the business community. Phil Catlett is the President & CEO at the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan. He’s an expert in the role trust plays in the business world. Each year the BBB recognizes a person in the region with its Trust Award. I asked Phil about the importance of trust. He told me that, “when we are trusted by others, it affirms our integrity, intent and capability.” He went on to say, “when we trust a person or an organization, everyone involved is uplifted and can perform at the highest level.” 

Interesting insight from both of them. Trust unites us; bolsters us, and powers productivity. So, if trust delivers confidence and unity – what does a lack of trust deliver? Doubt and divisiveness. For companies, a lack of trust is like a virus that travels faster than a text emoji. It manifests itself in several ways – missed deadlines, duplicate work on a project, stress between colleagues, staff turnover, excessive overtime, quality control issues and eventually lost clients. 

The single greatest driver of trust within an organization is communication built around a shared vision. A culture where open lines of communication exist between leadership and employees. Between an organization and its stakeholders. Where leaders celebrate employee successes, share failures and most importantly, listen. Listening to staff and customers, and then taking steps to change as needed because communication without action is just talk.

So, how important is trust to you and your organization? How is it displayed and measured internally? From an external standpoint, do you know if your customers and business partners view you as a trustworthy leader? Considering how important trust is, it’s valuable to find out where you stand. If you’re struggling to answer those questions you might want to reach out to a business or communications consultant. You can also reach out to the BBB which offers trust awareness programs. The bottom line – trust is like a garden that needs constant attention, especially in a “work from home” environment. It’s wise to take the proper steps to ensure the harvest from your garden is as good as it can be.

Rebecca, thanks again for your comment – and the mental exercise it prompted.