3 Vital Steps to Build Trust with Internal Communications

In his 2012 book, The Trust Edge, author David Horsager accurately asserts that "trust, not money, is the currency of business and life."While many leaders naturally think about building trust with customers, business partners and influencers, we often forget about the importance of first establishing trust with employees. It's well documented that employees who believe in their organization's mission and shared values are happier, more productive, invested in its success and active in promoting their organization to others.Are you building trust among your workforce? Here are three necessary steps:

  1. Practice transparency and reap its trust-building benefits. As MegaFood's CEO Robert Craven points out in Entrepreneur Magazine, transparency and trust start at the top. Your leaders should regularly share their personal thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes.Successes should be shared as celebrations, but so too should failures as lessons on how the organization can do better. As a recent paper from the Centre for Corporate Excellence documents, "credibility is achieved when companies are able to tell employees not only what is done well, but what is done wrong, and how it will be improved."
  1. Elevate communication as an essential skill for your frontline managers. Too often I have found companies that promote technically competent workers to frontline manager positions, even though those workers are admittedly terrible communicators.Trust-building organizations can ill-afford to rely on technical competence alone among their frontline managers. They must understand that a, if not the, primary role of a frontline manager is to create dialogue and engage in meaningful communication with the troops. Anyone not capable of delivering on this creates a weak link in the internal chain of trust.
  1. Create a research-based, measurable plan for internal communications. In his book, Horsager identifies eight "Pillars of Trust" crucial to accelerating and maintaining trust within an organization. They are:
  • Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous.
  • Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.
  • Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy.
  • Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable.
  • Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.
  • Connection: People want to follow, buy from and be around friends.
  • Contribution: People immediately respond to results.
  • Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently.

I offer a ninth and tenth "C's" to Horsager's list - Creativity and Context. People enjoy appropriate humor and entertaining stories that communicate through real-world examples. Appropriate creativity and context can provide a positive spark in your internal trust-building communication efforts.

These "C's" can be used as the framework for any strategic internal communications plan. If you don't have a plan with specific strategies, actions and accountabilities, now is the time to create one.What do you think are the keys to creating a culture of trust within - and outside - your organization?

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