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Archive for the ‘AIM Towards Trust’ Category

Oct
15

Last week a business owner inquired if I could help his company build a roadmap to a high trust culture. First I asked what he thought the roadmap might include, and his answer was not surprising. “My business coach instructed my office manager to hire a motivational speaker, enter us in a “great workplace” competition, donate money to charity, and have an annual picnic. Then we can call ourselves trustworthy.” ( I didn’t dare ask for the name of the coach, as it was immediately apparent that trust subject matter expertise was not their forte.) My next question was a bit more difficult. I asked him what role he would play in designing the trust roadmap. His response, “That’s why I hired a coach, so I would know how and what to delegate to my staff.” Suffice it to say, it’s a good thing the conversation was occurring by phone so I could end the call quickly.

With unemployment at record lows and employee engagement and retention looking very bleak, one might think that leaders would pay closer attention to building a culture of trust, which some have gone as far as calling the “new currency,” but apparently not so. In fact, over the past ten+ years, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard similar (and sometimes worse) answers to the questions posed above. 

So once again I turned to the members of our Trust Council  and asked them for what they considered to be the first three steps in building a culture of trust.

Bob Vanourek a former Fortune 500 CEO was the first to respond, sharing the following, and from the perspective of a consultant engaged by a large organization:
1. Contact the top leader of the organization for a personal appointment to tell him/her what they are undertaking and why it is so important, promising to keep them and all intermediate levels of authority informed about this effort.
2. Call a special meeting (with no other agenda items) of his/her direct reports and other influential staff members to:
  • Inform them of this effort.
  • Ask for their help in supporting it.
  • Ask for their help in finding resources (written, video, or in-person) to support it.
  • Ask their help in creating periodic measures for all of them for how to observe progress.

3. Commit to keep trust-building as a top professional priority in the future.

Bob Whipple of Leadergrow approached the question from the perspective of what a small business owner might do:

Have a staff meeting and tell your team there are some new rules for the enterprise:

  1. We will admit our mistakes, and model that behavior by admitting a mistake you have made during the last week that you have not shared yet.
  2. Ask that every time a person receives help or some special effort from someone else on the team – that person writes a thank you email to the person and copies you on it.  You then read a selected few of those notes at the start of every meeting. Build a culture of reinforcement at all levels of the organization.
  3. Insist that when you say or do something that someone in the organization believes is not right or consistent with our values, that person is obligated to tell you what the concern is and promise that you will make that person glad he or she brought it up.  Then do exactly that without fail – ever.  Practice reinforcing candor!

My approach to constructing a high trust culture, encompasses some of the suggestions made by “the Bobs” above, and will work in any organization of any size.

  1. Establish an organizational trust-building committee comprised of a Board member if applicable, a member of the executive team, one senior employee from the compliance, finance, communications and HR functions. Set a one-year goal to build a culture of trust from the inside out, at the team level, including the Board and executive team.
  2. Since trust is an outcome of many universal principles, step two is for each team to determine which principles are weak, and which are strong. As our past surveys have shown, the results won’t necessarily be the same from team to team within the organization. (If the organization is relatively small, it may not be necessary to survey each team individually.)
  3. Spend the first six months addressing the weakest principles on each team and celebrating the strengths. Repeat survey in 6 months and continue working on the principles that remain weak. By the end of one year, the hardest part of the trust “construction project” will have been completed. Now go have that ice cream social!

Building a culture of trust will only be effective when: 

  1. Leaders acknowledge that culture change starts with them, and is always built from the inside out
  2. The right tools are used to identify trust weaknesses and strengths
  3. Team members are free to discuss survey or other diagnostic outcomes through open dialogue
  4. Trust weaknesses are mended and strengths are celebrated

We call this process AIM Towards Trust... Acknowledge, Identify, Mend and it’s been used successfully in teams and organizations of all sizes, shapes and colors; but only when leaders intentionally choose to build trust into their corporate culture AND own it. That must always occur BEFORE a crisis, not after the fact.

Finally don’t get caught up in “work arounds” to building a high trust culture because there ARE no quick fixes. These are a few of the more “trendy” ones that you might have encountered:

  • Misdefined trust: This includes brand trust, data trust, blockchain trust, and check-the-box trust. Trust is always internal and interpersonal.
  • External trust polls: If the question “trust to do what?” is not answered, the survey is either invalid or misleading.
  • Trust as a popular place holder title:  Many will use trust interchangeably with other terms like transparency, ethics or integrity, when it is actually a combination of many universal principles.
  • Trust as one-size-fits-all: Because of its complexity, all organizational trust challenges can be attributed to a variety of factors that must be identified and addressed separately and differently.
  • Trust that is not “principles” based: Trust is not a function of the PR department or a “purpose” campaign, but rather a function of highly principled trustworthy leadership.

I hope these suggestions will help you in constructing your own trust roadmap. Special thanks to Bob V. and Bob W. Your contributions to elevating trust are always appreciated.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. For more information on how to build authentic trust, contact her at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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Oct
12

 

Is it just me?

Most people I’ve met in business are honest, while a handful can’t stop their bulls–t.

How many BS excuses have you heard? What’s your favorite? These are a few of mine:

 

 

 

  • I’m VERY busy
  • I’m traveling nonstop
  • Check back with me in a month
  • I never saw your email
  • Let me run it by my team

Instead, why not just say “I’m not interested?”

People on the receiving end of BS excuses know they are just that, because they have heard them all before.

In my book, excuse givers get two strikes (the first might be legit), and then they are out! And I’ll share my experience with any colleague who asks.

I’ll take honesty over crappy excuses any day, because honesty builds trust. And if you can’t trust someone to initially tell you the truth, you probably don’t want to do business with them.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. 

 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Oct
08

A story of a toxic industry and how a soccer game might just offer some guidance…

This week HSBC announced the layoff of 10,000 employees, just months after ousting its Chief Executive, and bringing in an interim. According to the Financial Times, in 2014 the company employed 24,300 risk and compliance officers, and in their 2018 annual report the word “compliance” appeared 129 times. Yet since 2014, billions of dollars in fines have been levied against HSBC ranging from bank violations, fraud, money laundering, wage and hour violations and toxic securities abuses. Even with a very significant compliance presence, something still isn’t quite right at HSBC, and hasn’t been for years. Could it be that it’s not a compliance issue?

HSBC isn’t alone. Others in the industry are taking similar steps, with banking leaders continuing to cite “external” factors driving their decisions. Rarely, if ever do we hear “I screwed up” or better yet, “Our culture remains toxic and the expensive 1980s fixes are no longer working.” What if instead, leaders chose an all together different strategy, one that began with some introspection and ended with an outcome other than mass layoffs?

And now for the soccer part…

Any parent who has sat on the sidelines of a high school soccer game knows that the referee serves in a “leadership” capacity, “controlling” both the technical and behavioral components of the game. Some might think of the referee as the “Chief Compliance Officer.” Usually the “calls” are accurate, but not always. When they aren’t, coaches, parents and players pile in, and the yellow cards fly.  Sometimes these “stakeholders” are even removed from the field.

But what happens when the referee doesn’t to show up? That scenario recently played out in a game between two teams- one a big inner city group, and the other a “smaller” suburban group. From the sideline, it looked like trouble. Who could imagine these two groups facing off on a field with no one in charge? But since it was an “add on” to the schedule, and didn’t “count”, the coaches made the decision to play the game without a “leader.”

The parents and coaches held their collective breath as the game began, and for the next hour, we waited for “trouble.” It never came. In fact, the two teams got along just fine, better than in most games. Good sportsmanship was displayed and members of both teams were communicating and laughing with each other throughout the hour. It ended in a 2-1 victory for the urban team, the boys shook hands, and we all went home. What a pleasant surprise. Nobody got “carded.”

What can we learn from this story?

Perhaps the person in charge only thinks they have the power. After all, they can make the “obvious” short-term calls, collect their fee and leave the field. They have completed the “task” they were hired to do. Yet when no one is in charge or the leader chooses to relinquish some control, team members are empowered and collaboration replaces command and control. The obvious calls are mutually agreed upon, and the not so obvious are talked through until a consensus is reached. This is a healthy culture where trust replaces fear. Maybe there is a lesson for everyone to take away from this story.

What are your thoughts? Drop me an email at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

If you want to learn more, join over 70,000 global professionals who have Tapped Into Trust, participate in our global 1 minute/ 1 question global workplace study and access our survey tools.

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Oct
02

Once again, the scandal plagued banking industry has a new CEO vowing to rebuild trust. This time the headline is out of Copenhagen… 

 

Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed, says its new chief executive

How many times have we heard these words before? “As reported by Reuters, Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed amid its involvement in a damaging money laundering scandal said the bank’s Chief Executive Chris Vogelzang, as he vowed to strengthen the bank’s defense.”

Fresh out of ABN Amro, another scandal plagued bank, the newly elected Danske CEO cites the primary cause for the loss of trust: “The high level of trust in Denmark, which enjoys a reputation as being one of the least corrupt nations, mean(ing) that there had been fewer incentives to control risks.” And his solution… As a result, he said, nine out of 10 people in the top compliance team are now from outside Denmark.

And also… “There was also some “bad” product in the mix. Trust in the bank has been further dented after a scandal, in which it failed to inform customers that it expected a poor performance from an investment product called Flexinvest Fri and continued to sell the product after raising fees associated with it.”

Once again I asked the members of our Trust Council to read the article and share some advice for Chris Vogelzang.

Donna Boehme, our “Lion” of compliance weighed in first, offering the following observations: 

To rebuild trust and establish a culture of ethical leadership is a huge undertaking that takes years, not days, and requires the advice and coaching of experts, not just PR Wizards of Smart.  One area the experts would focus this company on would be the entire system of “incentives” which has an outsized effect on culture and business decisions, as demonstrated so vividly by Wells Fargo and its fake accounts scandal. Danske might want to look at the leading edge examples being set by a number of companies In this arena.

It is also encouraging that the CEO has brought a compliance team together that has AML and other compliance SME. But if he wants that team to be successful, he must ensure that it has independence, empowerment, line  of sight, seat at the table and resources adequate to do the job well. Gone are the days when reputation and brand can be entrusted to an in-house legal team with no legitimate compliance SME (earned in the trenches) and lacking the positioning and authority to do the job. 

 

Stephen M.R. Covey  shared the following thoughts:

First, “you can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.”  In other words, the only way to restore trust here will be through actions—behaviors—not merely words (although words can be helpful to signal what you’re going to do).  Key behaviors to restore trust here include:  Confront Reality (acknowledge it), Practice Accountability (own it), Right Wrongs (make it right as best you can), Clarify Expectations (tell people what you’re going to do to re-earn their trust), and Keep Commitments (do what you say you’re going to do).

Second, trust in the marketplace is an extension of trust in the workplace.  It’s inside out.  So in order to restore trust with customers, it will be vital to also restore trust with your own people.  Too often organizations who have lost trust in the marketplace focus primarily (sometimes almost exclusively) on the customer/market trust and don’t recognize that they also need to be rebuilding internal workplace trust.  Without the workplace trust, it’s hard to sustain market trust.  Indeed, it’s incongruent.

Third, while building/rebuilding trust is definitely an inside-out process, starting with each leader and with the leadership team, it’s also vital that the process move out to the organizational level where they can better and more appropriately align systems and structures to ensure they build trust the right way.  Some of these systems/structures may have been misaligned in the past and may have contributed to the challenge.

There’s a lot more they need to do but those are just a couple of thoughts.

 

I’ll add a few more observations to the sage advice provided by Donna and Stephen. 

The concept of rebuilding something implies that it was built before.There is one question that the new CEO must answer before a trust-building strategy can be developed. What exactly did we trust our bank to do in the past that we are currently failing to do? 

While compliance plays a role in elevating trust, it must first come as a directive from the top. If the Board of Directors doesn’t understand or support the importance of creating a long-term strategy to elevate trust, the leadership team will be ineffective. The Danske Board currently consists of five committees: audit, compliance, nomination, remuneration and risk. I would suggest adding a sixth called “trust” and immediately calling in some trust subject matter experts to assist in outlining this critical trust-building strategy.

And speaking of strategy, whether post crisis or proactive, trust can never be delegated, yet this is what we see time and time again. It is not a legal or PR “tactic,” but rather an outcome of an intentional trust “plan” that leadership executes, practices and reinforces daily. In other words, trust “talk” must be followed up with action.

I hope someone at Danske reads this and passes the article up the chain. Perhaps Danske will someday become the industry role model in building trust. After all Denmark, with its high level of trust, should demand nothing less.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. For more information on how to build authentic trust, contact her at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

This is the link to the original Reuters article.

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Sep
22

It’s Sunday. What are your plans for tomorrow?

Did you know that twice as many people call in sick on Mondays as compared to Fridays? 

 

 

That’s 24.8% vs.12.8% according to a recent study conducted in the UK. And few would argue that employee absenteeism places pressure on productivity, morale AND the bottom line, but who’s keeping track?

Putting reasons aside like sickness or a hurricane, the following common workplace occurrences are fueling Monday absenteeism:

  1. Truth takes second place to personal and professional gain
  2. Accountability is expected but not practiced by management
  3. Short-term wins beat long-term purpose
  4. Talk and actions don’t match
  5. Only one voice matters and it’s not yours
  6. Moral character? What’s that?
  7. Closed doors and closed mindedness abound
  8. Hidden agendas stifle transparency
  9. Fear is rampant and rules “rule”
  10. Failures are punished
  11. Honesty is not encouraged
  12. Shared values are non-existent

Can you name the common thread running through these?

If you guessed low trust you are correct, and it is present in almost every workplace. Low trust, leads to low morale which, in turn, increases employee absenteeism.

The fixes aren’t all that difficult if you can get past Step #1 below.

Step #1 ACKNOWLEDGE that trust is low. That’s the hardest part. Reviewing these universal principles  and answering this one question/one minute anonymous survey will help. (Almost 70,000 people already have)

Step #2  Identify which principles are weak in your organization. They won’t all be and strengths can be celebrated.

Step #3 Mend them with these tools. You can do it yourself or contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Why have YOU chosen to call in sick tomorrow? What actions can you take to curb “Mondayitis?”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO at Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Sep
08

How many of the following are present in your workplace? 

  • Low transparency
  • Distortions of truth
  • Lack of respect
  • Hidden agendas
  • Poor communication
  • Zero accountability
  • Short-term thinking
  • Inconsistent talk and actions

If “All of them” is your answer, you are not alone. In fact, in our ongoing global survey of workplace trust, and in our individual team assessments, we repeatedly see these challenges, directly impacting organizational productivity and profitability.

Most leaders continue to ignore these risky elephants in the room. We know that because our master survey shows that “Tracking” (We define and scorecard our performance against our value and values – we measure both) is the weakest of the twelve. Instead, leaders choose to rely on outdated metrics and complex solutions to what is not a hard fix; all the while throwing their hands in the air when turnover is high, engagement is low, innovation is all but gone, and a “flavor of the day fire” wastes valuable time.

Let’s face it. Trust is being ignored in your workplace causing both low employee engagement and elevating organizational risk. Why not acknowledge this and fix it by starting the discussion?  Email barbara@trustacrossamerica.com to learn more about bringing AIM Towards Trust into your workplace.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. We have been helping organizations build trust since 2008.

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

Aug
20

Ideally, an internal C&E team will have great people skills and the ability to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholder groups. But if the team is ignoring the underlying principles essential to building high trust, the C&E function will be ineffective AND responsible for increasing enterprise risk.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

The head of Compliance & Ethics at a large global public company recently engaged us to administer our AIM Towards Trust assessment within their 20+ member team. Unlike others who take trust for granted or consider it a soft skill, this one acknowledged that internal team trust was lacking and wanted to find out why. They sought to identify trust weaknesses and strengths, and to begin a trust discussion with the goal of remedying the weaknesses, celebrating strengths and reducing risk.

Our one question/one minute assessment is based on our universal principles called TAP (Tap Into Trust), developed over the course of a year by many of the world’s leading trust scholars and practitioners, accessed almost 65,000 times, and now in use in dozens of teams and organizations.

The survey results are displayed below. Accountability, Transparency and Respect were identified as the principles that needed immediate attention and, armed with this knowledge, the C&E Team leader was provided with additional do-it-yourself tools to address the weaknesses.

This leader believes that the responsibility to elevate organizational trust lies with their team, and is now expanding the assessment, bringing it into other functional areas within the organization to identify and remediate trust gaps. 

High trust C&E teams are role models, supporting employee and customer wellbeing which, in turn fosters faster company growth and achievement of organizational goals, while minimizing risk. 

What do you think the trust profile of your C&E team would look like, or would you rather not know?

While your colleagues are embracing trust as the NEW currency, are you choosing to ignore it?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust using a proprietary assessment tool called AIM Towards Trust. A former consultant to many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc. No part of this document may be reproduced without permission.

 

 

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Aug
13

Some leaders pretend that trust is high even with mounting crises, excessive turnover and low engagement.

Some rely on external metrics that provide a false perception of trust while internal trust continues to languish.

If leaders could poll their employees (in one minute) to identify trust weaknesses and strengths would they?

Yes, using our survey tool called AIM Towards Trust many already have.

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The chart below shows one of many survey results administered by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World.

What would your team or organization’s results look like?

 

Are the results surprising?

Test drive the survey at this link. See how your organization compares to over 300 others.

Many global leaders claim that “trust is the new currency.” If you agree, what is holding you back for evaluating the level of trust within your team or organization and starting a trust discussion?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust using a proprietary diagnostic called AIM Towards Trust. A former consultant to many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc. No part of this document may be reproduced without permission.

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Jun
18

For immediate release:

 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust using a proprietary diagnostic called AIM Towards Trust. A former consultant to many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

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May
29

Trust weaknesses perhaps represent the greatest risk in today’s competitive business environment. Recent news confirms this.

A costly trust “fix” can wreak havoc on a company for years to come. Consider the long-term impact on all stakeholders as a result of Wells Fargo’s trust breach. The fact is, almost every trust “event” can be avoided or “softened” when Boards acknowledge that trust is tangible, and choose to proactively build their trust bank account.  Placing trust in the center of the business strategy, and practicing and reinforcing it daily is no longer a nicety, it’s an imperative.

Trust is internal and ALWAYS built from the top down and the inside out.

Trust cannot be delegated to PR, communications or any “silo” per se. Purpose, reputation, sustainability and data privacy are also not substitutes for trust. They are simply placeholders or misguided “perception” of trust. A Board that chooses to ignore trust as a stand alone tangible asset, does so at its own risk, and cannot  manage it by taking it for granted. Higher organizational trust produces the following outcomes:

  • Higher employee engagement and retention and lower fear
  • Expeditious decision making
  • Innovative mindsets
  • Elevated accountability, transparency and communication
  • More profitable

Speaking in 2016 at an annual conference of the Arthur W. Page Society, Paul Polman, CEO at Unilever noted that without trust in companies, there can be no genuine prosperity. Seventy-five percent of U.S. graduates, he said, do not want to work for big companies anymore. 

Given that trust is always a top down imperative, could the Board of Directors gain valuable insights into the importance of elevating trust if they surveyed their own members based upon universal principles of trust? What would the results reveal? Would the Board find respect to be high or low? How about integrity or understanding?

And what if upon completion of the survey and creation of a plan to address the weaknesses, the Board expanded their trust-building efforts by administering the same anonymous survey to Legal, Ethics & Compliance, HR, Finance and Marketing? Would this provide the Board with any actionable insights? Could reputation risk be reduced? And what would each team’s results look like? How quickly could trust, and the resulting long-term benefits, be elevated by correcting the deficiencies?

In fact, what if a Board member assumed the role of Chief Trust Officer for the entire organization? Sounds like a fairytale? It’s not. This exact exercise is already being implemented in several progressive Boardrooms in both domestic and international organizations.

What are Boards finding?

After completing the survey, one Board determined that the Principles of accountability, transparency and tracking were sorely lacking among their members. These weaknesses are now being addressed, while successes such as “truth” and “respect” are being celebrated. This Board plans to roll the diagnostic out firm wide.

A Simple Solution

In 2017, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s global Trust Alliance set out to create universal trust-building Principles that could be applied in any team or organization of any size. The plan was to develop a non-threatening mechanism to start the “trust discussion.” The Alliance itself (now in its 6th year) is comprised of cross functional professionals including Board and C-Suite members, compliance & ethics, risk, HR, marketing, finance, accounting, CSR professionals, etc.

Beginning with almost ninety ideas, and over the course of a full year, members weighed in through a powerful decision-making software tool, and honed the ideas to twelve Principles that form the acronym, “TAP INTO TRUST.”

TAP (Trust Alliance Principles) was first published in April 2018 and is currently available as a free PDF download in 16 languages. In just one year, over 50,000 global professionals have “tapped in” and the trust “movement” shows no sign of slowing.

In March 2019, Phase II was introduced. AIM Towards Trust is an anonymous one question, one minute survey that allows teams and organizations to obtain their trust baseline metrics and address weaknesses. AIM is an acronym for Acknowledge, Identify, Mend.

Building trust-based principles into the DNA of an organization lowers fear and elevates security among all stakeholder groups. For example:

  • Employees stop looking over their shoulders and instead start engaging, innovating, collaborating and working for the “greater good.”
  • Customers no longer question whether the “brand” can be trusted.
  • Shareholders trust that their investment is less risky.

The most enlightened Boards (we have written extensively about this subject in TRUST! Magazine) have an enormous business advantage when they choose to become the catalyst that turns around low trust in their respective companies, and in the broader business landscape. The tools are available for those who want to do more than “talk” and to actually make “Trust the New Currency” instead of just the latest buzz.  And remember, trust always starts at the top.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World , now in its 11th year, and whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. She holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. 

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