How do you build trust to drive business results? The answer is with leadership transparency, will, collaboration and success.

 In the 2012 TIGERS Success Series survey, we asked over 2300 HR representatives in 101 countries what the biggest team hurdels they face is. Trust came up consistently as an  issue.

Another leadership development company has also released recent research results entitled Building Trust in Business in 2012. This report on trust and leadership outlines some critical advice for building trust for driving business results.

According to the report by Interaction Associations,  “Shared responsibility for success is a key characteristic of high trust organizations – meaning employees are committed to a common goal and are eager to collaborate to make it happen”

The findings also suggest that even in the struggling economy in the United States, companies that take action now to build and fortify trust will do much better during the recovery than organizations that do not. Of the 300 companies included in the survey, 440 leaders weighed in to determin if there was an intersections of trust, leadership, and collaboration.

The Results

There have been huge declines in trust over the past four years. The Building Trust 2012 survey points to big declines in leadership and trust across the business spectrum – with trust at its lowest level since Interaction Associates began surveying the issue in 2009.

For 2012, trust takes the biggest hit on the question of whether leaders are consistent, predictable, and transparent in decisions and actions. In 2012, only 23% of respondents said that their companies’ leadership is consistent, predictable and transparent, compared with nearly 40% in 2009.

The 2012 results show a clear, explicit connection between companies that achieve strong business results and high ratings in trust, leadership, and collaboration. Additionally, leaders of high performing companies are more focused on employee involvement – including the notion of shared responsibility for success as a key driver of business results.

In companies that are performing well in the areas of revenue and growth, employees are 12% more likely to recognize how their tasks are linked to the organization’s overall objectives than are employees in less successful companies. And these higher-performing companies are 13% more likely to provide a collaborative environment founded on shared responsibility for success.

“Trust is at rock bottom, but if leaders want to drive trust levels higher, we say: focus on openness, transparency, and involving employees,” said Linda Stewart, CEO of Interaction Associates. “Shared responsibility for success is a key characteristic of high trust organizations – meaning employees are committed to a common goal and are eager to collaborate to make it happen,”

Comparing High Performing & Low Performing Companies Building Trust in Business 2012 distinguishes between high performing and low performing companies. Survey respondents who stated their company’s net profit grew more than 5% over the previous year were classified as working for High Performing Organizations (HPO’s). Companies with profit growth below 5% were classified as Low Performing Organizations (LPO’s).

Respondents’ self-reporting along those definitions were verified independently by analyzing public information on each company. Leaders Build More Trust at High Performing Companies.  High Performing Organizations are more successful at building trust, their leaders are seen as more collaborative, and they’re much better at retaining key employees.

Compared with LPO’s, 14% more survey respondents from HPO’s agreed that employees have high trust in management and 15% more see their leaders as effective. “In other words, at high performing companies, leaders are trusted, they’re known for leadership transparency — and they involve their people in decision-making,” said Linda Stewart.

More Insights

Additional Insights Linked to Financial Success Building Trust 2012 details other patterns around trust, leadership, and collaboration — characteristics that are strongly correlated with financial success. Examples include:

  •  High performing organizations have shifted to a focus on building and managing relationships as a key priority, which differentiates them from the rest of the pack.
  •  HPO employees are 14% more likely to say they have the interpersonal and group skills needed to collaborate, and are open and receptive to the suggestions and opinions of others.
  • Employees at HPO’s are 19% more likely than employees of low-performing companies to say their leaders reflect realistic optimism and confidence in the future, and that they have specific and measurable goals that are clearly linked to the organization’s strategy.
  • Employee engagement and involvement levels are down at HPO’s and LPO’s, but employee involvement levels are stronger at HPO’s. In fact, HPO’s have more than double the percentage of involved employees than do LPO’s – and HPO’s are more effective at retaining key employees.
  • At HPO’s, fewer employees are disengaged or passively engaged – in fact, HPO’s have 11% fewer of these employees.
  • HPO’s and LPO’s share similar business priorities – the top two for both are revenue growth and profit growth – but HPO’s are much more focused on retaining customers and talent than are LPO’s.

Catalytic Solutions

Getting employees in low trust enviornments engaged requires top leadership commitment to changing the work environment and leadership practices that support trust.  According to recent articles in the Harvard Business Review, having a way to catalyze solution generation and then incorporating those employee driven solutions in a transparent and measurable way into business operations will start the process.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

For organizations with the leadership will and commitment to rebuild trust, add this resource to your search. Two options are available. You can become licensed to conduct in-house work environment transformation that builds and sustains trust and other principles that support cooperation, or contract with one of our facilitators. TIGERS Success Series has been helping leaders build teams of employees where trust and cooperation thrive since 1989.