Hopefully, by now, I convinced you through my previous articles that (1) trust is the foundation for your organization’s success while distrust will lead to its demise, and (2) that you, the HR professional, are ideally positioned to build trust in the organization, and nobody else is better suited for the job than you. That leaves one question unanswered. How? How do you build trust in the organization? This article will answer that question and propose a four-phase approach to building trust in the organization.
Phase 1: Kick-Off
No organization-wide effort will be successful without complete buy-in from the top. And by top, I mean the CEO. The effort should start with the CEO clearly stating that trust is important to the company and them personally. They will announce the launch of the effort to build trust through an all-hands meeting or a video sent to all employees (so they can observe the CEO’s body language and appreciate the sincerity).
Phase 2: Trust in HR
The HR professional is positioned perfectly to build trust. However, unfortunately, multiple surveys found that the HR department is not trusted enough by the employees; some surveys show that up to 80% of the employees stated that they don’t trust HR. For HR to coach employees through building trust in the company, they must first be trusted themselves. Therefore, before rolling out the effort to the entire company, the HR department must go through the process itself, increasing the level of trust the employees have in them. The HR professionals must first form new habits that change old behaviors that build their own trustworthiness. That process should be given time, typically between 60 and 120 days.
Phase 3: HR Training
Once the HR personnel formed their own new habits and increased the level of trust the employees extend to them, they must learn how to coach others through that process. No doubt that having experienced the process firsthand would help, but the ability to guide others through the process is not straightforward and must be learned as well.
Phase 4: Rollout
At last, the HR professionals, now experienced and trained in the process, can now start coaching and guiding others in the company through the process, starting with top management. Distrust among members of top management trickle down to distrust between their respective organizations, and if their employees don’t trust them, distrust becomes pervasive throughout the entire organization. Once top management was coached and guided by the HR trust-builders, they can now move on to guide everyone else. The process can be completed within a year.