Trust: The Missing Ingredient to Building Capacity for Change

This week I’m featuring a guest article from Eliza Brennon, a strong writer who has been featured on a number of media outlets and I’m pleased to have her contribution here. Enjoy!

Organizations, both large and small, are adapting to the rapidly changing economic landscape. However, adapting to change is not without its obstacles. In a World Economic Forum report, 20% of business executives cited the difficulty of maintaining a strong culture and clean company purpose. Although businesses can leverage their networks and technology to drive their goals of sustainable growth, it is equally important to strengthen trust within an organization to ensure long-term adaptability.

So on that note, here are a few ways you can cultivate and strengthen trust within your company:

1. Be transparent
Generating buy-in begins with setting realistic expectations with your stakeholders. What are the benefits of your proposed change effort? How exactly will you and your organization achieve them? What pain might people expect along the way?

It is crucial that you are transparent so that employees understand the motives behind the change — now and in the future. Your employees will likely have questions and doubts, so be prepared to address their concerns.

Gather them for a meeting to discuss the details surrounding your change effort, then hold one-on-one consultations to communicate what you need from them. For example, what will they need to do differently on day one of the change? How can they contribute to success? Looping everyone in on what skills they need to enhance shows that you’ve invested time to plan and prepare for their success.

2. Align actions with words
We all know that words are meaningless without action. Concrete actions are required to cultivate trust. However, it is just as crucial for business leaders to supplement their actions with the right words. Be forthcoming about the company’s long-term vision once the change takes effect.

Your announcements should make use of dramatic words to catch your employees’ attention. Likewise, consistent messaging is key in communicating that the company is committed to a path. A Forbes feature on effective leadership states that, when you lack consistency, it erodes trust.

This is because when your words aren’t compatible with your actions, it leads to confusion. When that happens, workers may hesitate to adapt to a specific change and likewise question your credibility. A loss of confidence in your words can ultimately affect their trust and compromise the company’s change efforts.

3. Foster a safe work and psychological environment
Change within a company can be scary. A leader’s task is to alleviate the worries of their employees and motivate risk-taking. That requires a safe work and psychological environment. Encourage your workers to approach you for feedback or to report a mistake. As covered in ‘How to Get Naked with Your Team’, being vulnerable helps make you approachable. Share anecdotes about your personal life, or be open about work failures that you had to overcome at the start of your career.

Aside from that, invite your employees to social activities. I strongly recommend food! The EntreLeadership Podcast, which is one of the renowned business podcasts on Scribd, notes that these activities are a great way to bond with your team and inspire trust. Who doesn’t love a fun potluck lunch? Similarly, as illustrated in the book Consulting to Technical Leaders, Teams, and Organizations,  team-building sessions can simultaneously boost trust and strengthen relationships in your team. Here, you can get to know the hobbies and interests of your employees. Aside from usual team games, suggest a game of bowling or a pottery class. During this more relaxed time you can also encourage them to give feedback on how you can enhance their working conditions.

Make the effort to meet your workers halfway and spend time with them. It goes a long way towards creating a sense of safety, where employees feel able to raise any concerns they might have with a change effort.

Transparency, alignment, and safety. It’s a trio worth adopting for long-term resilience.

For more insights on becoming a great leader, read through the latest resources here on on Jeff Skipper Consulting.


Eliza Brennon is a freelance writer producing great content on business and management. She believes that every organization is capable of amazing outcomes through sound leadership. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and rock climbing.

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