Archive

Archive for the ‘AIM Towards Trust’ Category

Sep
09

Do you work on a team where both leaders and colleagues hide their true intentions?

The outcome of hidden agendas is distrust and inertia, as goals become guesswork and the fear of making a mistake increases.

 

 

 

Last week, as part of our Zoom Lunch & Learn members of our Trust Alliance convened to discuss the topic of team trust, transparency & hidden agendas. We addressed four questions during the hour:

  1. How do you define the role of transparency in the context of a team? (We define it as follows: We reject hidden agendas. We are transparent wherever and whenever possible.)
  2. What causes hidden agendas?
  3. How can transparency be elevated within a team?
  4. Why is transparency frequently cited as the main cause of low trust, even though it is not?

What did our Trust Alliance members have to say about Question #3? How can transparency be elevated within a team?

The following were some of the key take aways:

  1. Both leadership and team transparency “rules” must be clear with no ambiguity.
  2. Lack of rules around transparency creates a lack of respect, often leading to either acquiescence or a challenge to decision making.
  3. Heightened transparency keeps team members more honest, efficient, innovative and collaborative.
  4. Have a policy of openness (not to be confused with transparency.) Always share as much as you can.
  5. Avoid lumping other trust busting behaviors into the transparency category. Know how to identify them and address them separately.
  6. Uncomfortable conversations are okay. People are resilient and able to absorb negative news.
  7. Elevating interpersonal skills like listening enhances transparency.
  8. Complaints and their resolutions should be shared with employees.
  9. Cowardice in some industries allows leaders to hide behind regulations as an excuse for lack of transparency.
  10. Addressing transparency issues in family businesses requires a different skill set.

 

A final comment:

While courageous and empowered cultures have fewer transparency challenges, transparency alone won’t get a team to the trust “finish line.” In fact, transparency is only 1 of 12 behaviors that elevate trust in teams and organizations. And in the many organizations we have surveyed, transparency is not the #1 cause of low trust. To find out what is, spend 1 minute answering this question and see the results from over 500 respondents.

For more information on how to assess the level of trust on your team or in your organization Tap into Trust and access our simple survey tools.
___________________
To participate in future Lunch & Learns, apply to join our vetted Trust Alliance. Our next session is September 23.
__________________
Thank you to Bart Alexander, David Belden, Natalie Doyle Oldfield, Charlie Green, Nadine Hack, Olivia Mathijsen and Bob Whipple for your insights. Until next time!
Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , ,

Aug
25

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”  Benjamin Franklin

“Say you’re sorry.” As a child, how often did you hear those words from parents and teachers? While apologies become even more “complex” in adulthood, have you stopped to consider the role they play in trust repair?  This week, as part of our Zoom Lunch & Learn series seven members of our Trust Alliance convened to discuss the topic of apologies in a session called “I’m sorry…but.”

Prior to meeting, I provided the group with the following insights shared by one of our members:  
It’s been almost four decades since Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol crisis, and public affairs professionals have been fixated on the “apologize” model.  Whenever a company is attacked, they recommend that trust can be rebuilt only by an immediate apology. Yet there have been critics of this approach, most notably renowned crisis manager Eric Dezenhall.  In his 2007 book Damage Control, subtitled “What Everything You Know About Crisis Management is Wrong,” Dezenhall argues that not all situations are the same, that not all apologies are the same, and that the costs and benefits of the apology must be carefully evaluated.
Through the lens of trust, the apology plays a particularly important role, which may be to restore, build or further undermine trust. The apology is no panacea that fixes broken trust; at best, it is one step in an ongoing process.  

Our discussion extended beyond apologies at the organizational or corporate level. We reviewed interpersonal apologies as well.

The following are some of the key take aways:

  • The purpose of an apology is to repair a damaged relationship, whether it is between two people or at the leadership/ corporate level, and there must be a desire to do so.
  • Apologies must have a unifying quality with no “conditions” or “buts.”
  • Authentic apologies must contain an acknowledgement of harm and a commitment to a behavioral change. (Example: A husband is caught cheating on his wife. The apology must go beyond, “I’m sorry for hurting you” to “I promise you I will never do it again.”)
  • Apologies should not be confused with taking responsibility. (Example: Johnson & Johnson followed their credo and took responsibility after the Tylenol crisis. They did not apologize.)
  • Victims need validation more than an apology.
  • Apologies are words. Trust is built through actions. A plan must be announced with specifics. Simply saying we “hope to regain your trust” is worthless.
  • Trust can be built only after lasting changes have been made. Remember, actions always speak louder than words.
  • Ethical actions not only reduce the need for apologies, they also raise awareness of the benefits of principled behavior. Incivility, sarcasm and humiliation have no place in relationships inside or outside the office. In fact, they are breeding grounds for reducing trust and increasing the odds of a crisis.
  • Consider what is happening in the relationship that creates the need for an apology. What internal changes should be made to modify the dynamic and prevent future crises? Without an internal culture of responsibility and accountability, there WILL be crises and regardless of whether or not an apology is given, there will not be a change in behavior to correct things.

A few additional thoughts the intersection of apologies and trust for leaders and organizations facing a crisis:

  • While most companies have a mission or vision “statement”, quarterly reviews based on financial returns still rule the day. This creates the perfect storm for a crisis. Leaders then delegate the apology and trust repair “fix” to their corporate communications/PR team, instead of taking ownership. Wells Fargo is the poster child for this approach which fails every time.
  • Most business leaders are unaware of the independent variables or behaviors that create trust. If they don’t defer to PR, they defer to “legal” who are trained in risk, not trust.
  • Spontaneous conversations about reputation rarely occur until reputation is in the ditch. Reputation management, like crisis management, like employee engagement are really PR terms rather than management terms. That’s why they’re not seriously a part of management’s vocabulary. Trust is a management word. Integrity is a management word. Civility and decency aren’t really management words.
  • One of my favorite questions in these circumstances is,” what would your mother’s say if they were in the room right now, after they slapped you in the head and told you that you were not the kid they raised.”
  • An attack on trust/a crisis means that the organization performed below expectations of at least one of its stakeholders. An organization can have a crisis with one stakeholder that does not impact others. For example, HP had a governance issue that caused it to apologize to investors with plans for how it would be avoided in the future, but it did not register with customers.
In conclusion, consider this:
Individuals, leaders and trustworthy organizations who are in the enviable position of having built trust over time, will be more easily forgiven for what may be viewed as a genuine or unavoidable mistake instead of an ethical lapse. This not only increases the chances of surviving future crises, it prevents the majority of those crises from happening at all.
For more information on how to assess the level of trust in your organization and reduce those apology “moments” Tap into Trust and access our simple survey tools.
___________________
To participate in future Lunch & Learns, apply to join our vetted Trust Alliance.
Thank you to Bart Alexander, David Belden, Lea Brovedani, Charles Feltman, Nadine Hack, Jim Lukaszewski and Elliot Schreiber for your insights. Until next time!
_____________________
Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

 

 

Copyright © 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

 

, , , , , ,

Aug
18

Two significant news headlines recently caught my attention:

Why 2020 Will See the Birth of the Trust Economy (World Economic Forum)

Covid-19 Vaccine Push Lacks a Key Ingredient: Trust (Bloomberg) (links below)

Missing from both articles is a 1) A concise definition of trust and 2) a comprehensive solution.

We define trust as the OUTCOME of principled behavior.

Trust is:

  • Always built from the inside out by ethical leaders.
  • It cannot be delegated.
  • It should not be the subject of a PR or marketing campaign.
  • It cannot be measured through external surveys (that is perception of trust)
  • It is not “one size fits all.”

Our global Trust Alliance comprised of business leaders, departmental managers, consultants and scholars worked collaboratively for over a year (2017-18) to identify the primary behaviors driving trust in teams and organizations. These 12 behaviors are our Trust Alliance Principles (TAP) and they have now been accessed, at no cost, over 140,000 times in *16 languages. The weakest behaviors break trust. Administering our AIM Assessment has shown that from team to team and organization to organization, these weak behaviors vary. In other words, elevating trust is not “one size fits all.”

AIM (an acronym for Acknowledge, Identify, Mend) uses the TAP behaviors to identify those that are breaking trust in order to have a starting place to begin a discussion on how to fix them. (We also provide resources to help our clients quickly resolve the primary weaknesses.)

Leaders and managers who acknowledge that trust is critical to organizational success and choose to elevate it to avoid the next expensive crisis, can do so in 3 steps with an inexpensive plan:

  1. Identify what you believe may need fixing by starting with the checklist below.
  2. Take our 1 minute master survey “Building Trust One Principle at a Time” to determine how your answers compare with over 500 respondents.
  3. Administer our AIM Survey to your team and start a trust discussion by holding a workshop.

 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

 

Copyright © 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

Articles cited:

www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/08/2020-birth-of-the-trust-economy/

www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-08-17/warp-speed-s-covid-19-vaccine-push-lacks-a-key-ingredient-trust

*Download our principles as a PDF:   EnglishArabicChineseDutchFinnishFrenchGermanHebrewHindiItalianJapanesePortuguese (Brazilian)RomanianRussianSpanish, and Swedish

, , , ,

Aug
11

“Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.”– Arthur Ashe

 

 

 

Performing a quick review of recent news headlines on trust repair and restoration returns the following results:

Restore Trust in Science

Pittsburgh Diocese to do More to Restore Trust

Can a Blockchain Timestamp Help Rebuild Trust

Fair and Unbiased Reporting Will Restore Trust in Media

Mayor Peter Gets Hired by Notre Dame to Restore Trust in Politics

Zuckerberg Has a Lot of Work To do To Restore Public Trust in Facebook

These headlines might lead the average reader to believe that, at one point, the referenced societal institutions had built trust and have now lost it. For others including me, they are a naive attention grabbing media tool, serving no purpose and misleading most readers. It’s simply not possible to rebuild or restore something that was ignored during the organizational construction phase.

Building trust should never be used as a crisis response or news headline following a reputation hit.

Trust doesn’t work that way. It is always proactive, intentional and deliberate and trust is built:

  • Through ethical and principled behavior modeled by leadership
  • From the inside out
  • Over time
  • In incremental steps

A strong foundation of trust supports an even stronger “trust bank account” and ensures that reputation hits will be minimized and repair will be easy and inexpensive. It also brings many collateral benefits including:

  • Elevated employee engagement and retention
  • Reduced workplace stress
  • Improved stakeholder relationships
  • More innovation
  • Better accountability, transparency and communication
  • Reduced costs and elevated profits

Unfortunately the current global crisis has revealed the level to which most leaders across all societal institutions from science to business, have ignored the organizational risks that their low trust environments have created. Many are now faced with the monumental task of climbing their way out of the “trust repair trap.”  While it’s never too late to start building trust, it must begin with leadership acknowledgement that the crisis response strategy to trust does not work. It never did.

Those interested in proactively elevating trust can choose to:

  1. Join our global Trust Alliance
  2. Tap into Trust and join almost 150,000 global professionals who have already done so
  3. Use our AIM assessment tools to start a trust discussion
  4. Host a virtual trust building workshop
  5. Or drop a note to Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

 

Copyright © 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , ,

Jul
28

Our 7th Trust Alliance Lunch & Learn was held on July 23rd when we convened nine members to discuss trust and trustworthiness. This one-page presentation summarizes our findings, providing both Essential Steps and Additional Considerations for those interested in further exploring the role trust plays in organizational success.

Join the Alliance to participate in our next event on August 6th at noon.

 

, , , , , , , ,

Jul
14

Regardless of your occupation, job title, or the type of organization that employs you, have you ever considered the role trust plays in leadership, team and organizational success?

And are you helping to build (or deplete) your organization’s trust bank account?

 

 

If you haven’t given any or much thought to these questions, you certainly are not alone. In fact, most people view trust as a soft skill that can simply be taken for granted. But consider this for a moment; there has never been a more critical time to acknowledge and embrace the business case for trust.* In fact, study after study confirms that over the long-term, high trust organizations outperform their low trust competitors, with the following benefits:

  • Elevated employee engagement and retention
  • Reduced workplace stress
  • Enhanced decision-making
  • Innovative culture
  • More accountability, transparency and communication
  • Reduced costs

Using our definition of Trust as “an OUTCOME of principled behavior,” what we knew about the benefits of high trust in the past is currently amplified in our current business environment. Often, it takes a crisis to remind us what happens when trust is ignored or taken for granted.

Whether you are working in person or remotely, these are some characteristics of a high trust workplace environment. How many are currently present in yours?

  • Energy, motivation and engagement
  • Easy to hire and onboard new employees
  • Fun and laughter
  • High confidence, creativity and risk taking
  • Thriving innovation and productivity
  • Team alignment, sharing of information and credit, and quick forgiveness
  • Accountability and transparency as the norm
  • Willingness to be vulnerable and open, speak freely, and to listen
  • Positive team-building behaviors including gratitude, empathy and candor
  • A strong sense of “community” and shared values

How many of the following signs of low trust are present in your workplace? 

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

Leaders who ACKNOWLEDGE that low trust is a tangible risk have taken the first step in building a trust based team and/or workplace. And acknowledgement remains the greatest obstacle in most organizations as it requires direct leadership attention and input, and some degree of vulnerability. If this hurdle can be overcome, then it simply becomes a matter of IDENTIFYING the personal and interpersonal strengths and weakness that are either building trust or busting it. They can then be discussed, MENDED and tracked. Our Trust Across America program calls this AIM Towards Trust, and the tool is being easily adopted by enlightened leaders of teams and in organizations of all sizes and across industries, providing a path forward to high trust.

If a long term approach to elevating trust is not a leadership imperative at this time, all is not lost. Here are a few short-term ideas that any team can implement during the current crisis.

  • Consider hiring or appointing a remote-workforce manager.
  • If you didn’t already have one, a crisis-continuity plan should be created.
  • Be clear about all expected outcomes with the focus on results rather than hours worked.
  • Ensure that all team members have a line of sight between the goal of the company and his or her personal contribution in getting to the goal post.
  • Have frequent touch points with your team about work-related matters and also about personal needs. It’s critical not to overlook your employee’s mental health during these difficult times.
  • Establish a buddy system for new employees.
  • Get your workforce up to speed with technology, but don’t over invest in it or view it as a quick and easy trust “fix.” Set aside some of that budget to learn how to build trust. It may be a little more work but will produce much great rewards over the long-term.
  • Access our Trust Alliance Principles for additional ideas and remember the weakest behaviors break the trust chain. (Over 140,000 global professionals already have.)

Which organizations will emerge the strongest from COVID-19? Probably those whose leaders chose to place trust in the center of their business strategy before March 2020. In fact, leaders and their organizations who banked trust in advance of the pandemic are now being handsomely rewarded and will continue to be long into the future. It’s never too late to start thinking about the role of trust in leadership, team and organizational success. Why not today?

*To receive a copy of our two-page Business Case for Trust, please contact us.

 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 11th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across industries and with many Fortune 500 CEOs. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

Copyright 2020 Next Decade, Inc.

, , , , ,

Jun
30

Today we conclude our 2020 Trust Insights series. Should you ever choose to think about the role trust plays on your team or in your organization, start by answering the question “Trust to do what?” and then consider the following:

 

 

 

  • All leaders and their team members must take ownership and be proactive about trust. Trust must first be well defined, never taken for granted or only talked about after a crisis. More on this subject at this link.
  • Trust is an outcome of principled behavior on the part of all leaders and team members. Access our Trust Alliance Principles to learn more. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.
  • Leadership effectiveness should be evaluated by the internal environment of trust that has been created and maintained. Learn how you can evaluate it.
  • Trust cannot be regulated or delegated to a “department.” Without shared values that foster a culture of trust, leaders defer to legal and compliance to enforce rules. Read “Trust: Going Beyond Compliance & Ethics.”
  • No organization is sustainable without a foundation of trust, and there are no shortcuts.
  • Trust in leadership and among teams cannot be measured by public opinion polls. Don’t confuse external “perception of trust” surveys with internal surveys of trust.
  • A company cannot create authentic brand trust without first building trust internally.
  • If you are a leader who is not willing to personally do the work to build trust, don’t talk about it as if you are. Read “Ten One Liners for the Low Trust Leader.”
  • The only way to build trust is to behave your way into it. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to trust, and there are many work arounds.
  • Ignoring trust as an intentional business strategy presents enormous enterprise risk. The benefits of high trust are too numerous to ignore.

I hope you have enjoyed our 26-week Trust Insights series.

Before you leave, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to over 500 others. 

Have you reviewed how our workshops are helping teams and organizations just like yours elevate trust? Schedule an ONLINE webinar today.

Did you miss our previous 2020 Trust Insights? Access them at this link.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization or email me directly:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , , , , ,

Jun
16

Given the right tools, trust can be measured. Barbara Brooks Kimmel

For decades, the external advisors to senior business leaders have counseled them to measure and evaluate every action according to return on investment. In recent years, box checking has become increasingly popular as well. Have you met your quota for women on boards? Are you decreasing your carbon footprint? Diversity and inclusion? Check. Advisory firms love to build new boxes to keep themselves in business. Last year’s box was “Purpose” and this year it is ESG. Imagine the year that the “trust” box becomes the box of choice. If you need proof that a business case for trust exists, please request it by sending an email to: info@trustacrossamerica.com

The following is a simple starting point to measure whether your employees trust you and trust each other. Ask them to count the behaviors below that are present in your organization.

  • High energy, motivation and engagement
  • Easy to hire and onboard new employees
  • Fun and laughter
  • High confidence, creativity and risk taking
  • Thriving innovation and productivity
  • Team alignment, sharing of information and credit, and quick forgiveness
  • Accountability and transparency as the norm
  • Willingness to be vulnerable and open, speak freely, and to listen
  • Positive team-building behaviors including gratitude, empathy and candor
  • A strong sense of “community” and shared values

Now ask them to identify how many of the following are present.  

  • Low energy, low productivity and burnout
  • High employee turnover and excessive use of sick days
  • Difficulty recruiting new employees
  • Too much focus on risk, rules and regulations 
  • Low innovation
  • No sharing of information and resistance to ideas
  • Lack of respect and passive/aggressive behavior
  • Resignation and cynicism
  • Finger-pointing, water cooler talk and lots of judgment
  • Cordial hypocrisy

Subtract the second number from the first to arrive at your trust baseline score.

Let’s say hypothetically your employees identify 5 positive trust behaviors and 5 negative. (5-5=0). Your trust score is zero. Don’t expect much employee engagement, innovation or risk taking.

Or your employees identify 8 positive behaviors from the first list and 2 negative from the second (8-2=6). Six is better than zero.

Or 2 posItive and 8 negative (2-8= -6). Not a place ANYONE wants to work. (And that “trust” box certainly can’t be checked.)

Our AIM Towards Trust survey tool has been used in dozens of teams and organizations to measure trust, start the trust discussion and fix what’s broken. The proactive and ethical business leaders who have adopted these tools can now check that trust box with confidence.

Before you leave, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to 500 others. 

Have you reviewed how our workshops are helping teams and organizations just like yours elevate trust? Schedule an ONLINE webinar today.

Did you miss our previous 2020 Trust Insights? Access them at this link.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization or email me directly:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , , , ,

Jun
09

Building trust in policing requires both trustworthy and collaborative community leadership and teamwork.  Barbara Brooks Kimmel

Police chiefs are not solely responsible for building trust with their communities. They are part of a team.  Just like a large corporation, the police department represents only one silo in the organization. They happen to also be the group subject to the most community exposure. In other words, it’s harder for the police department to hide behind a veil of secrecy, especially in cases involving misconduct, as we have recently witnessed. If you believe in the saying “The fish rots from the head,” you would be hard pressed to find an untrustworthy police chief working as part of a well-functioning team alongside a trustworthy mayor.

The following is taken from a recently updated report written by Trust Across America called Building Trust in Community Leadership, and originally published in 2013. It provides insights from top subject matter experts with whom we have worked over the years.

At a minimum….

The following are quick guiding principles in building and maintaining trust for community leaders:

Mayor

Public confidence in the integrity of elected officials is the cornerstone of our democratic representative system of governance.  As the highest-ranking elected official of its municipal town or city, the Office of the Mayor is charged with the trust, wellbeing, security, and prosperity of its citizens and community.  The Office of the Mayor should perform its responsibilities with the highest sense of ethical leadership, integrity and competence.  Each Mayor’s Office should develop, implement and monitor a set of Guiding Principles of Integrity that is tailored to its unique mandate and responsibilities. Donna C. Boehme, Compliance Strategists

(This short news clip provides a timely example of a Mayor who is talking about fortifying trust between community, police and local government.) Thanks Mayor Terry Short!

Town Manager

Today more than half of U.S. cities with a population of more than 10,000—and an increasing number of counties—are run by a combination of appointed professional administrators and elected officials. 

Trust is both the foundation and result of ethical leadership, and the manager must seek to create trust between himself and (1) the municipal employees, (2) his elected board, and (3) the community.  He can only do this one-day at a time as he sets examples for all other employees to follow, and public policy for the elected board to adopt.  His decisions on hiring, promotions, municipal services, and public policy must begin with transparency, and reflect his unbiased opinions on how municipalities provide public services to its citizens. David L. Woglom, Lafayette College

Chief of Police

An trustworthy policing leader creates and maintains a comprehensive values-based risk-management program that:

    1. Is based on clear, practical, effective and fair policies and practices to identify, prevent and detect illegal, unethical and unprofessional conduct.
    2. Assures that, if improper conduct occurs, prompt and appropriate remedial actions are taken to prevent future misconduct and to protect and enhance the agency’s credibility and reputation.   Michael Josephson, Josephson Institute

Head of Emergency Management

In emergency management the single most important issue that comes up again and again is the need for individual relationships to be in place before there is a disaster.  The criticality of these personal connections cannot be over emphasized.  One illustrative mantra that is shared is this, “If you see people exchanging business cards at the scene of an incident; you know it won’t go well.”

In reality while it sounds like relationships are key, the real shortfall that dooms projects, programs and regional efforts is a lack of trust between the individual players.  Trust then is the ultimate goal and how you get there is a critical path to be followed.  Eric Holdeman, Eric Holdeman & Associates

Superintendent of Schools

Few would argue that our education system must transform if we are to truly serve the needs of our students into the future. Now more than ever, the foundation for an educational leader’s strength comes from their trustworthiness and their ability to build trust among others.  Trust is no longer assumed based on position and credentials, but rather must be built based on the quality of relationships.  This requires a shift in leadership approach from one of command and control to one of collaboration.  Susan Mazza

To obtain a copy of the complete 17- page report including trust-building action plans for the job functions mentioned above, as well as other community leaders, please click here.

Before you leave, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to hundreds of others. 

Have you reviewed how our workshops are helping teams and organizations just like yours elevate trust? Schedule an ONLINE webinar today.

Did you miss our previous 2020 Trust Insights? Access them at this link.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization or email me directly:

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , ,

May
12

 Geert, thank you for participating in our 2020 Trust Insights series. What is your trust insight?

Ethics and compliance officers need to stimulate and assist management to establish a culture of trust.  Geert Vermeulen

 

 

 

 

Can you expand a bit on this important insight?

If you want to create a culture where people feel free to speak, hold people accountable, managers set a good example, where employees are engaged with the organization and feel that they are treated fairly, you are basically working towards establishing a culture of trust. This means that as management, you should not only focus on satisfying shareholders, but also on your other stakeholders, starting with your employees.

By establishing a culture of trust, where people are not afraid to admit errors and mistakes, are able to challenge decisions, where they openly discuss potential problems as well as new ideas, you will not only have fewer long-lasting problems but you will also stimulate a more innovative culture. As a result, you will have a better reputation as a company.

Therefore, you will be better able to attract high-potentials to come and work for you and clients will be more inclined to buy something from your brand. And as a result of fewer problems, more innovation and a better reputation, you will see that you will have better financial results in the long term. So, in the end, this also benefits your shareholders. It’s a win-win situation in the long term.

 

Can you provide a real life example of a trust “challenge” where your insight has been effectively applied.

I was working as an ethics & compliance officer at a multinational and found out that in a certain country people were making corrupt payments. We stopped the payments and asked an outside party to conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, the quality of the investigation was unsatisfactory and in the end, I decided to continue the investigation myself together with a colleague. So, we traveled to this country to interview people, analyze what had gone wrong and submitted a report to the management in which we advised to take a number of corrective and preventive measures, including firing a few people and taking disciplinary measures against others. Virtually all of our recommendations were adopted. As a result, people in the local organizations looked at me as the guy who got their colleagues fired and were frightened to talk with me. But that is not what I wanted, I wanted people to come to me with their challenges and issues, so we can have a discussion and try to find solutions together. We, (the management and I,) basically had to restore trust. But the question was how. We decided to use all the tools that we could think of.

We started by confessing that we (regional/global management and the compliance department) had also dropped the ball and had not been sufficiently involved in this country, despite the fact that it was identified as a high-risk country. Therefore, we invested in the local compliance function and I also visited the country more often. We encouraged everyone to come forward with anything that had happened in the past that they were concerned about, trying to create a culture of openness and transparency. And if they had not been the main driver behind the unethical behavior, they would not get fired or face any negative consequences whatsoever for coming forward. We offered all employees free access to external lawyers for a number of days. They could ask confidential advice and we would pay for that, without knowing who asked what.

Now that the corrupt payments had been stopped, some of our employees received death threats from former clients. After a careful deliberation we decided to step into that discussion, taking away the authority to make payments from the local country office and by communicating that if anyone still had problems with that, they could have a discussion with somebody from the head office (me), herewith exposing ourselves to these threats as well, demonstrating personal commitment. I have to admit that, since I have children, I have become less brave and more careful, so this was quite uncomfortable. Luckily nobody showed up to have that discussion.

We personally visited some of the more problematic locations to actually see with our own eyes what was going on. We organized dilemma sessions with the employees to explore potential solutions and panel sessions with senior management where employees could ask anything. At the same time, we launched a marketing campaign, organized a compliance quiz and handed out rewards. And to conclude the marketing campaign, we organized a party.

We knew that we would lose a number of clients and were prepared to make a loss. Much to our surprise our experience proved that, as we profiled ourselves as the most compliant supplier in the market, we obtained new clients and our annual results in the end actually showed a growth of both revenue and profit. We put a lot of effort into restoring the trust and I think that we managed to succeed. That said, keeping the trust also requires a lot of work and is something that should not be taken for granted.

 

Generally, do you think the global “trust” climate is improving or worsening? What actions are making it better or worse?

This is a difficult question. If I look at the political climate across the world I am not very positive. I notice that quite a few leaders with a nationalist agenda are elected, taking protective measures. Not trusting other countries. Blaming the opposition. 

At the same time, I also see changes in the business world, like the recent emphasis on ESG, as expressed by BlackRock and other major investors, as well as the declaration from the Business Round Table in the US. Business leaders are realizing that they are losing credit from society and they release statements that they want to balance the interests of the shareholders with the interests of the other stakeholders. But do we see that happening in practice? I guess it is still too early to tell. In The Netherlands we have seen leaders like Paul Polman from Unilever and Feike Sijbesma from DSM making their companies more sustainable and at the same time also delivering better business results. The question is what their successors will do now that they have stepped down. And whether other companies will adopt a similar strategy.

More importantly, I am very optimistic about the younger generations, the millennials, who seem to have another attitude. In the US we have seen employees starting protests against their companies who don’t seem to follow their own value statements. I have not seen that in other countries yet, but I do notice (anecdotally) that also in Europe the young generations are less interested in money, possessions and wealth and more interested in experiences and doing something meaningful with their life.

 

Many claim we have a crisis of trust. Do you agree?

Yes, I do. Countries seem to be less inclined to support each other. Free trade agreements are re-negotiated. The value of international institutions is challenged. We spend less money on development aid. The US and Europe stop refugees who want to enter their countries looking for a better life. We have free movement of goods and capital but not of people. If anything bad happens, foreigners are blamed. In the US the Democrats and republicans are so divided that it is hardly impossible to reach a compromise. This while a good democracy also takes the interests of the minorities into account.

Instead, we see an ‘us against them’ attitude and people hardly seem to be able to listen to each other, feel empathy with other people, trying to understand their situation and line of thinking. And this happens at a time where we are more connected than ever through social media and global supply chains. The reality is that we are all in this together. Trust in vital institutions like journalists and scientific institutes is waning. However, I also see some positive trends, as described above.

 

Geert, how has your membership in our Trust Alliance benefitted you professionally?

The Trust Alliance inspires me. I learn from other people and it is always nice to meet likeminded people to exchange thoughts and ideas. I have also used the outcomes of the FACTS(R) Framework to support my theory that ethical/trustworthy organizations achieve better business results in the long term. I use that in my articles, talks and training sessions.

In The Netherlands I have been active in the Association of Dutch Compliance Professionals. I am the former Chairman. I launched and still chair the expert group on Financial Economic Crime and am a member of the expert group on Culture and Behavior, where I lead the internationalization effort. This last group developed a toolbox with some 40 tools that ethics and compliance officers can use to (assist management to) influence the company culture and the behavior of individuals. We are going to include Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s AIM Survey tool in our toolbox this year.

 

Geert, thank you so much for your time and more importantly for your commitment to elevating organizational trust. What would you like our audience to know about you?

My mission is to help organizations conduct business in an ethical and compliant way by reducing risk and stimulating better business. I specialize in establishing and improving ethics and compliance programs in general and anti-corruption programs in specific. In 2016 I founded ECMC: Ethics & Compliance Management & Consulting to provide compliance training, consulting and interim ethics & compliance management. I also speak and write on ethics and compliance.
Most of my experience was obtained in-house as the Chief Compliance Officer Aon EMEA and the Global Head of Compliance of Damco, the freight forwarding arm of Maersk. I have been the President of the Dutch Compliance Officers Association, the founder/chair of the expert group on Financial Economic Crime of the Association, a member of the expert group on Culture and Behavior and a member of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Law Compliance Minor at The Hague University. I am the recipient of the 2020 National Compliance Award.

 

Before you leave, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to hundreds of others. 

Have you reviewed how our workshops are helping teams and organizations just like yours elevate trust? Schedule an ONLINE webinar today.

Did you miss our previous 2020 Trust Insights? Access them at this link.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization or email me directly: barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , ,