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Trust: what do companies earn?

Discover what trust can bring to your organisation. An article written by Sébastien Chappe, Pauline Filliol et Marie-Amélie Raynaud, Senior People & Culture Consultants at Talan.

With containment, for many employees, nothing will be the same. But at a time when the organisation of traditional and face-to-face work is showing its limits, what about trust within the company? Are trust and performance compatible concepts in the world of work? 

Remote working has had a sudden impact on all levels of the organisation. Management of distance from the organisation and pairs, familiarisation with tools, lack of visibility; the list can be long. For some of us, distance has also offered the opportunity for autonomy thanks to benevolent and confident management, a source of employee mobilisation and performance. 

Close relationships, empathy and kindness were powerful drivers in this period. It is on these foundations that some organisations have seized the opportunity to confirm the bonds of trust that bind the company to its employees. 

For others, deep reflection should be initiated on hybrid working methods, where trust, beyond the implementation of specific collaboration and control tools, will have a predominant place. Often called into question, trust is not decreed. It is built on mutual commitments between employees and their senior managers, managers, and teams. 

By promoting these benevolent working conditions based on trust, we can see that stress is decreasing to give way to virtuous cohesion and creativity, and thus strengthen the link and commitment to the company.  

The overall challenge is then to combine control and trust to achieve common objectives. 

Reviewing one’s organisation is first and foremost a change of conviction, to admit that one can trust a priori. If, eventually, trust is flouted, one can then withdraw it or redefine its limits or extent.

Lack of trust leads to disengagement and underperformance. 94% of employees would be disengaged at work. Companies must recognise their employees’ ability to be autonomous and accountable, in order to guide, motivate and direct them.    

Restoring trust could first involve working on the company’s culture. Moving from a culture of reporting and control to a culture of trust, restores autonomy, free will and consideration to employees. To increase trust in our organisations, we must simultaneously:

  • Give meaning and vision by setting out the concrete objectives and impacts of individual and collective actions 
  • Be transparent to employees by regularly providing them with the company's key figures
  • Review the role of managers to make them facilitators for the development of their teams
  • Assure all team members that everyone will do their job and do it well
  • Make decisions collectively to commit together and build on recognition as a trust factor

How can we initiate the transformation and support this change at all levels of the company?

Leaders are the starting point and driver of change. In order to remove their obstacles, they should be allowed to take a step back from the situation of their company and identify obstacles to trust in order to define the areas of progress as well as the areas of control needed. Leaders must be irreproachable regarding the actions undertaken to drive change. For anchoring, a co-development approach with managers can be usefully undertaken to set up a repository of attitudes and practices expected from the manager and sanctuary in a charter that will concretely embody this change daily. Managerial sharing sessions, role plays, or individual coaching sessions can remove the obstacles and place managers as drivers of transformation. Change must be made concrete by:

  • Defining areas of autonomy to empower players within their teams
  • Rethinking reporting processes to provide constant and optimal visibility of employee actions 

To establish better group cohesion and dynamics, collective intelligence tools (co-development, FDBK on projects or personality inventories) promote a climate of benevolence and cooperation and facilitate a creative approach within teams and thus highlight the right to make mistakes. 

The crisis we are experiencing highlights the value of trust and its role within our organisations. By limiting the fragmentation of tasks and by empowering employees, companies give meaning to work and thus create the conditions for trust and success.