At ConvergenceCoaching, we can’t seem to stop talking about trust. This, despite the fact that partners in firms across the country continually tell us, “There are no trust issues here!” or “Our partners trust each other (and our employees trust our leadership team, etc.).” However, trust is more than being “honest” or ethical. When you trust someone, your behaviors, communications and results mirror that trust.

Yet, a lack of trust is THE reason partner teams struggle to gain unity, grow their firms at the rate they’re committed to, achieve larger profit margins, retain star team members, deepen client relationships and more. That is why we keep on talking about trust. We know that people are more engaged, more likely to push hard and more likely to stay when they trust their leadership team. And, we know that study after study shows that most organizations can improve. According to a 2011 Maritz Research poll of employees:

25% have less trust in management than they did last year
7% strongly agree that their senior management’s actions are completely consistent with their words
12% of employees believe their employer genuinely listens to and cares about its employees
14% believe their company’s leader is completely honest and ethical
10% trust management to make the right decisions in times of uncertainty
What’s the good news? High trust companies outperform low trust companies by 3 to 4 times in terms of income and it’s because their people waste less time complaining and spend more time driving their initiatives forward.

So, how do you determine if you have a low-trust culture? Read the following list. If you find answer yes to any of these questions, you may have trust issues to address:

– Do leaders and other team members avoid delegating to others and instead hoard or take back work to ensure that it’s “done right” or to protect their self-interest?

– Do leaders and other team members “triangulate” by having side conversations (gossip and complaining) versus going directly to the person with whom they have an issue or to the person who can resolve the situation?

– Do leaders or team members refrain from saying anything in a meeting or “disengaging” from participating and then not support decisions that were made when away from the group (often engaging in triangulation outside the meeting room)?

– Do leaders act unsupportive of the decisions of the Managing Partner and/or Executive Committee, sharing their concerns with others?

– Do leaders question the compensation committee and its decisions (even if it’s based on a partner-approved compensation method and plan)?

– Do leaders or other team members “steam-roll” a decision or force an outcome without input or collaboration from appropriate stakeholders because they “know best”?

– Do leaders or other team members fear retribution if issues are identified or the “status quo” is questioned?

– Do you have too many layers or too many people involved in making decisions or gaining approval to move initiatives or projects forward?

So how does your firm stack up? Which of these areas can you go to work on to restore trust in your organization? In a future blog I will address some potential solutions and ideas to build (or rebuild) trust in your organization.

In the meantime, as you start chipping away at the issues I’ve outlined above and commit to a high-trust culture, you’ll find that you will outperform your competitors because you will do a better job of innovating and collaborating, delivering value and deepening client relationships, executing and achieving your goals, and retaining (and attracting!) star performers on your team. Be prepared to reap the rewards of performing as a high-trust organization – and share your roadblocks and successes on your way to building trust in your team! We’d love to hear from you!