Archive

Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

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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May
14

Taken from this week’s “Rebuilding Trust” headlines…

Facebook promises to rebuild trust via a “feel good” marketing campaign.

Boeing hints that perhaps a name change is (not) in order. There’s been “no discussion” of a name change, Johndroe said, including dropping “Max” and referring to the jet family by product numbers such as 737-8.

Danske Bank picks a new CEO and states, without details “We have a big task ahead of us in continuing to rebuild trust,” Danske Bank Chairman Karsten Dybvad said in a statement.

 

Who is doling out all this misdirected advice? And what does rebuilding trust even mean?

Ad campaigns, name changes and new CEOs are not the solution. Trust is internal and interpersonal, and is built from the inside out. It is an intentional and holistic business strategy that is practiced and reinforced daily starting at the very top and impacting every stakeholder group. As we have seen with almost every corporate crisis in the past, putting a Band-Aid on the elephant in the room doesn’t heal the wound. It just covers it up.

And why do these business leaders, and their respective “advisors” believe that trust was present in the past and now needs to be rebuilt? When was the last time trust building was a proactive agenda item at the Board level or in the C-Suite in any of these organizations? Until a deliberate acknowledgement is made that “perception of trust” is no replacement for trust itself, the “headlines” will repeat themselves, and the proposed solutions will not only be very costly, but ultimately lead nowhere. The crisis will blow over and it will be “business as usual.” No need to utter the “T” word again.

For authentic leaders who want to build trust from the inside out, please visit our website and read more about our new diagnostic, AIM Towards Trust.

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Apr
28

When leaders bust trust, employees play all sorts of games, and I don’t mean the video or tennis variety.

In my first post-college job, the “leaders” were intolerable jerks.

They defaulted into leadership by being company founders. One couldn’t keep his eyes (or his hands) to himself, while the other was insecure, abusive and lazy. Both thought nothing of lying to employees or clients. They also believed that if they threw enough money at their employees, they would earn their loyalty and respect. These two were a good match until one outsmarted the other and the partnership dissolved.

The office manager (also the head of HR and everything else) took care of all the “soft stuff.”

The problem was she also lacked leadership skills. She played favorites, made dumb rules and ultimately had no say in the owner’s decisions.

“Game playing” became the office norm. Among the games:

  1. Four day weekends
  2. The hour-long lunch break was always taken, plus a few more
  3. The water cooler was the most popular gathering spot
  4. Friday couldn’t come fast enough
  5. 9AM turned into 9:30 and 4:30 became the new 5PM
  6. Minimal effort was exerted. Through observation, I once calculated that the average employee spent less than 3 hours each day productively working.
  7. Many employees treated their clients the same way they were treated
  8. Turnover was very high and people quit without notice
  9. Employees spent hours on personal phone calls
  10. Loyalty was nonexistent, and employees often left their jobs to work for clients (including me.)

Any of the above sound familiar? What, other than more regulation, has changed in workplaces over the past 20 years?

Employees take their cues from their leader. Leaders who want to avoid game playing in their organization must not only be trustworthy but also make elevating internal trust their first priority.

For more information on elevating trust in your team or organization please visit our website and read more about our diagnostic AIM Towards Trust, now being used in companies worldwide.

For inquiries contact:

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and Cofounder

barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

 

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Apr
01

Trust Across America has been writing about Wells Fargo and making public suggestions to leadership on how to fix the Bank’s low trust since 2016, apparently to no avail.

The recent “trust building” communications “horse and pony” show was predictably a huge and expensive fail.  Anyone with even a basic understanding of organizational trust knows that trust is internal and must be built from the inside out, not through a PR campaign. So now the sudden resignation of the current CEO comes as no surprise to us, nor does the appointment of the “interim” CEO who “by chance” happens to be a lawyer.

Over the weekend we asked members of our cross functional Trust Council to weigh in on the actions required to right what appears to be a sinking ship. We appreciate the thoughts of our Council members who took the time to weigh in.

Acknowledge trust as a hard asset: Do not assume that trust is a “soft skill” and do not attempt a fix via exclusive input from legal and compliance. Form a cross-silo team to attack low trust with the support of the “right” Board members, possibly necessitating some “reshuffling” at the highest level. In other words, clean house.

Make trust building the first priority: A foundation of trust must be built before culture can be fixed. 

Be accountable: Embrace responsibility and accountability and avoid the deadly Watergate sin of tip-toeing up to the line but not crossing it, perpetuating the sense of cover-up. You’ve got to own it—and then some.

Measure what matters: Assess the current level of stakeholder trust and use this baseline to begin attacking the weaknesses. What can be measured can be managed.

Practice and reinforce values: Saying or printing them is mere cant. You’ve got to propagandize them, talk about them in application to specific instances, hold leaders accountable for a quota of such applications.

Model humility: Place truth-telling ahead of personal or professional gain.

Be transparent: Reject hidden agendas and be transparent wherever and whenever possible.

Hire and fire: Nothing builds trust faster than firing and hiring people. Hire/fire/promote on visible demonstrations of the bank’s values. Cull out the middle managers who still think they can get away with hiding unethical behaviors. 

Erase fear: Drive out fear and ensure every voice is heard and every trust breach is fully investigated. “The absence of fear is the incubator of trust.” Reward moral character and reinforce candor.

Track performance:  Define and scorecard performance against both values and value.

Perhaps the most difficult question came yesterday when someone asked me “Who would want the job of CEO?” That’s a tough one. Hiring another banker may not even be the best solution as finance is not generally considered an industry to exhibit high trust behavior. Regardless, the hope is that whoever the brave soul is who steps in to take the position begins their tenure by first acknowledging that trust is internal and must be elevated from the inside out. Only then can the required culture work begin.

PS- CNN just (attempted to) weigh in on how the bank can end the crisis. They may want to go back to the drawing board and craft a followup article.

For more information and tools to elevate trust, head over to our website at www.trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.

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Mar
26

 

In a recent GreenBiz article the author asks  Is This the End of Corporate Social Responsibility? Apparently CSR doesn’t “cut it anymore” and companies are now turning to the creation of social purposes or missions as “the reason for the company’s existence.” Sounds promising except for that one “big elephant in the room.”  Can you name it?

 

 

Study after study show that low stakeholder trust continues to drag down most companies, even ten years “post financial crisis.”

  • Only 7 percent of Americans believe that major company CEOs have high ethical standards. Public Affairs Council
  • Only a minority of millennials believe businesses behave ethically. Deloitte
  • 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Gallup
  • Just 46% of employees placed “a great deal of trust” in their employer, and only 49% placed “a great deal of trust” in their manager or colleagues. Ernst & Young
  • For the first time in the six years the gauge has been reported, the US has dropped out of the “Top 10” countries for innovation. Bloomberg

Developing social purpose and mission is NOT going to fix what is wrong inside organizations.  We call these “perception of trust” fixes as opposed to authentic trustworthiness. The first is built from the outside in, while the latter is a more difficult inside out endeavor.  Focusing on social purpose before trust is like putting a clean shirt on a dirty body. And other than an “easy fix” that gives marketing and PR something to talk about, it makes little sense.

When business leaders treat trust as a tangible asset and a business imperative, the following results are achieved:

  • Employees are more engaged and retention increases
  • Innovation is higher and occurs more quickly
  • Teams are more cohesive and decisions are made faster
  • Transparency and communication improve
  • Costs decrease and profitability increases

And the opposite occurs when they don’t, which is where most organizations find themselves today. A social purpose and mission will not fix low trust. It’s up to leadership to decide when (and if) they are ready to address the “elephant in the room.” Delaying it doesn’t fix it.

PS- Elevating trust is the best kept secret of many enlightened business leaders and it is giving them not only a head start, but a clear competitive advantage. For more information on how to build trust in your organization, please send a note to me at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com. We are running our trust diagnostic (AIM Towards Trust) for many teams and organizations and, depending on the results, providing further insights on how to fix the weaknesses.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 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. 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Mar
20

Are financial institutions inherently untrustworthy or is this a simple misconception? 

To answer this question we first must consider how “finance” and “trust” are being defined. Without universally accepted definitions, all financial institutions are painted with one broad brushstroke and consumers among other stakeholders, are left in an ever escalating state of mistrust and confusion. And when the “news” and the latest “study” report that trust in finance is up (or down) this only fuels the fire.

Trust? What are we trusting financial institutions to do, or not do? Safeguard our money, be transparent with fees, earn a good return for shareholders, protect our personal data, treat employees well, provide good customer service, or all of the aforementioned?

Finance? Can global investment banks, regional banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, financial planners, REITS, and/or a local savings and loans be lumped together when discussing trust in finance? Should they be?

For nine years Trust Across America has been researching and reporting on the trustworthiness of America’s largest 2000 public companies via our proprietary FACTS® Framework. We perform this analysis through a quantitative and objective lens (with no input from the companies themselves)

 

This is, by order of magnitude, the largest ongoing study ever conducted on trustworthiness at the individual corporate level. Our 2018 data (Russell 1000 only displayed below) concluded that the finance sector remains the lowest in trust, with an average score of 57 on a 1-100 scale. (Down from 58 in 2017). This dataset was finalized in April 2018. It is updated every April.

 

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.

 

But what do these numbers really mean?

Our data also tells a more detailed story, and one that places us in a unique position to discuss trust AND the financial industry. Industry is NOT destiny and those more trustworthy financial institutions suffer at the hands of their less trustworthy colleagues. Take a look at this. Suddenly certain financial industry players look quite a bit better, while some look worse.

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.

 

 

And dissecting the data even further reveals the following:

 

                                                 Name            Symbol    Sector                        Industry                 FACTS Score

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.

 

Some of the major regional banks have high trust scores, while others do not. Again, industry is not destiny.

Trust in financial institutions isn’t necessarily “up” or “down.” That’s simply a news headline. At its core, trust is internal. It is a function of how much leadership cares about its corporate culture, and chooses to embrace the value of trust in meeting the needs of every stakeholder group. For those leaders who are interested in learning more about how to elevate trust internally, please Tap into Trust and take our sample one minute (customizable for any organization or team) quiz.

For all others, keep debating whether trust is “up or down.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World 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. 

Purchase our books at this link

For more information on Trust & Integrity in Corporate America purchase our 2018 report. To be among the first to review our research and more fully engage in elevating organizational trust, please consider membership in our vetted Trust Alliance.

 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Mar
07

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Mar
05

In the words of Abraham Lincoln…. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

 

The same applies to trust. These commonly taken shortcuts to trust may fool some of your stakeholders, but won’t fool them all, and over time they may come back to haunt you.

  • Narrowly defining trust in a way that suits the trustee. Brand loyalty, check the box sustainability, philanthropy, “feel good” CSR, blockchain solutions and data security are not trust. Neither are reputation, loyalty or transparency.
  • Delegating trust to a motivational speaker instead of a subject matter expert.
  • Paying for a “great workplace” award.
  • Beefing up the legal and compliance staff.
  • Making trust a PR campaign based on “talk” rather than action.

Do we really need more proof that shortcuts to elevating workplace trust do not work?

Take a look at the following data:

Trust within an organization is essential to its success. But “Global Generations 3.0” research, released by Ernst & Young, showed trust isn’t a given. The survey of nearly 10,000 workers ages 19 to 68 in eight countries revealed that just 46% of employees placed “a great deal of trust” in their employer, and only 49% placed “a great deal of trust” in their manager or colleagues. June 2016

According to a new global study by BBMG and GlobeScan, “Brand Purpose in Divided Times,” net trust in global companies to act in the best interest of society is negative (-2). And for the first time since 2009, more consumers say they have punished companies for their behavior (28%) rather than rewarded them (26%), and the number of those who are punishing brands is up by 9 percentage points since 2013.

According to 2018 polling by the Public Affairs Council, only 7 percent of Americans believe that major company CEOs have high ethical standards, and only 9 percent have a very favorable opinion of major companies. Only 42 percent of Americans trust major companies to behave ethically, down from 47 percent last year.

Gallup’s 2017 reports: A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow. And according to their recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. The economic consequences of this global “norm” are approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. Eighteen percent are actively disengaged (up from 2015) in their work and workplace, while 67% are “not engaged.

 

Building a “principled culture” of high trust and ethics is not difficult. It simply requires leadership buy-in, and a bit of vulnerability. High priced quick fixes might fool some of the people in the short-term, but in the long-term sustainable businesses are built on trust from the inside out, not the outside in.

In our recently launched one minute (free and totally anonymous) diagnostic survey called “Building Trust One Principle at a Time,” we ask which of twelve universal trust principles (TAP) are weakest in your organization. At the end, respondents will see how their workplace compares to all others. Bringing this tool “in house” will provide enlightened leaders, teams and organizations with a baseline trust “temperature” from which to build long-term business health. Just tap on the Take our Quiz button or go direct to the Survey.

If trust is the “new currency,” as some have recently claimed, the challenge will be to “get it right” by avoiding the shortcuts and embracing the solutions.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Barbara has consulted with many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, and also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance . She is  the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine.  Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA.

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Feb
18

When trust is low, fear is high, and fear is very costly.

Numerous studies have shown that:

  • High-trust organizations consistently outperform their rivals
  • Trust is the foundation of high performing teams
  • Trust reduces employee turnover and increases engagement
  • Trust increases productivity and innovation
  • High trust leads to long-term business success, beyond just short-term “home runs.”

What is your organization doing to cut the losses of low trust?

The “fix” is relatively easy and inexpensive. And it begins by acknowledging that low trust is costing you money. Like a disease, if low trust is ignored, it continues to spread.

Our newest Trust Tool is based on our Trust Alliance Principles (TAP), the result of the collaborative efforts of dozens of the world’s leading trust scholars and practitioners. Since April, these principles have been accessed over 40,000 times in 16 languages. This tool will provide any team (including the Board of Directors,) or organization of any size in any industry, with a simple roadmap to track and elevate trust.

Want to learn more? Contact barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey and 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. Don’t forget to TAP into Trust!

 

Copyright(c) 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Feb
05

 

The trust “talk” is increasing in frequency and volume, and that’s a good thing. Or is it?

 

At least leaders are thinking about it. Yet when it comes to defining trust, those same people are either getting stuck (at best) or using the word “trust” as a placeholder (at worst.) When trust is misdefined or misidentified, it not only gets diluted, but stakeholder cynicism quickly builds.  If you choose to talk it, keep in mind that trust takes many forms, each with it own distinct definition. Make sure you are using the right one!

Trust:  (the noun)

Trust: (the verb)

Trustor: (noun)

Trustee: (noun)

Trustworthy: (adjective)

Trusting: (gerund)

Propensity to trust

For those who want (or need) a refresher course, Charlie Green and I wrote this article, complete with definitions (and much more,) almost 3 years ago. And if you want to see how you are doing in the “trust department,” we offer this brand new one-minute quiz. How are you defining trust and how does your organization compare to others?

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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