The scandal of phone hacking at the News of the World has further undermined trust and confidence in important institutions. In a whole range of relationships, trust is an essential component of lasting success and L and D should use its expertise to work alongside management to support the development of a trusting culture.

The Great Place to Work Institute sums it up with its assertion that "trust and a sense of ownership over work remain important elements of great places to work".

Seven key components

We contend that there are seven key components to a trusting relationship, which, in turn, will help create long-term strength and a more productive organisation.

Rate your organisation against these components of trust:

  1. Credibility and sincerity: Do your company messages ring true?
  2. Consistency and reliability: Are you consistently reliable?
  3. Friendliness and empathy: How approachable is your organisation?
  4. Coaching and development: Are employees reassured that they are dealing with knowledgeable colleagues?
  5. Empowering staff: Do managers give advice and guidance, not dictate or micromanage?
  6. Feedback, particularly praise and recognition: Do managers build trust and capability by finding things worthy of praise and giving plentiful feedback?
  7. Transparency: Is communication constrained by 'need-to-know' and secrecy? Numerous studies show that a line manager's openness plays a vital role in the process of building trust.

Creating high levels of trust starts with buy-in and example from senior leaders and managers. We have seen companies take conscious steps to promote a trusting atmosphere, for example holding regular small-group sessions to give individuals face-to-face dialogue with managers to break down barriers. Openness of communication and pre-warning of company plans help to avoid erosion of trust.

What should L and D do to support a trusting relationship?

L and D has an important role in developing and maintaining trust through the wise use of its tools, techniques and approaches. For example, the most 'efficient' organisations are not always the most sensitive to other people, and this lack of sensitivity can easily undermine trust. Research by Daniel Goleman, author of Working with Emotional Intelligence, makes it clear that developing emotional intelligence makes a significant difference: it is often how we are, and how we relate to other people, that counts.

Skills development is also important in fostering trust. For example, communication skills development helps people understand how non-verbal and verbal communication can build up trust, or reduce it. Also, unacknowledged and poorly-handled performance and competence issues can undermine trust. Leadership styles also have an effect on engendering trust.

L and D can observe and influence culture by taking an organisation-wide role as an analyst and provider of feedback.

All in all, L and D has a substantial potential to influence trust through promoting the right kind of culture and developing an organisation's people.

Source: Training Journal