Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 recently presented at World Economic Forum, should excite all CEOs in particular. Fake news, years of decreased mass-trust in authorities and need for people to take control - the masses are looking for trust locally, i.e. at their workplace.
We’re already far into the digital revolution, the biggest change since the industrial revolution in the 1800s. All parts of society are and will be affected by new technology, big data, IoT, artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum computing and more. We will be approached by businesses and authorities in ways we’ve never seen, or even imagined. Processes we know today as complex, slow, time-consuming and incomprehensible, will become simplified, transparent, involving – even fun and educational. We will be served by efficient machines and advised by caring and passionate humans who love their jobs and who are obsessed by you – their customer. Most of them will know what you need before you know it yourself, and they will not sell in traditional ways, but involve you in understanding and crafting the perfect solution, designed specifically for your needs.
The passionate employees and their authentic leaders
These passionate employees will know that the machines and the robots are awesome tools who will help them do all the dirty work they’ve never really cared for anyway. They will bring on major workload for the machines to hack, so that the employees themselves, get to do the fun work of breaking it all down, making it understandable and relevant for their peers, their leaders, developers – and most importantly – their customers. They will be so excited to bring the newfound information and solutions to the market, test it on their customers, get instant feedback which they will in turn feed back to the machines, robots, peers, developers, and leaders, so that the entire eco-system at a workplace, will continually improve and create even better solutions.
The passionate and engaged employees are motivated by authentic leaders. Leaders who understand that their most valuable resource is their human workforce. The people. These leaders have realized that everything has to start with the people. The employees need to get the newfound information first, and they must be in charge of their own mandates. All employees will in short time – if not already – be working as Marketing Managers, in control of their products, markets, customers and framework conditions. They will be prospering and thriving in a network of dynamic and empowered teams, where roles are clear and structure is flat. Each team is a robust community and processes are rapid and educational due to action-oriented decision making, authenticity, and radical transparency. (This is further reflected and backed up in for example McKinsey’s report on “5 Trademarks of Agile Organizations”)
Trust and team-efficiency
Within the field of research, trust is regarded as a dimension closely related to team-efficacy. This may become evident through how companies make strategic choices, structure their organizations with regard to i.e. employer involvement, collaborating within the organization and formal, bureaucratic routines. Huang and Murninghan stated that trust is an essential part of human collaboration, and my own research for a master thesis in 2015 proved that the level of trust within a team has strong impact on the team-efficiency. Broad research has found three drivers for building trust: Ability, Benevolence and Integrity. In a workplace these three drivers could affect or determine the company-culture for instance like this:
- Ability – how employees regard their CEO’s abilities
- Benevolence – how employees expect their CEO to safeguard their employees’, customers’ and/or society’s interests
- Integrity – how the CEO walks the talk when it comes to company- as well as his or her own values and principles
With Edelman’s Trust Barometer in mind, 2019 could possibly be the best timing ever for establishing and building trust within the organization. Building trust by involving and empowering the entire organization ensures that efficiency and productivity will improve, as well as employee- and customer satisfaction and engagement.
It all comes down to the company-culture
Building trust is hard work and closely related to the company culture, often defined by the company’s mission and values. Most companies have defined their Mission and values based on an industrial mindset, possibly looking like this: we have (or acquire) the necessary technology (1) to come up with a product (2) that solves (3) our customers’ needs (4).
The digital mindset looks like this: we need to know our customers’ needs (1) so that we can solve (2) their problems by creating a product (3) which needs to be continually improved by implementing and using the best technology (4).
Customers today expect to be treated individually and not as a mass, this can only become possible through involving and engaging the entire workforce, each and every one. Igniting and engaging all employees should start by involving them in defining a new Mission and new values supporting the new era. This process can also be seen as an opportunity to connect employees’ own values with the company values and mission – the Big idea – as referred to in the Trust Barometer.
The company culture starts with the CEO. A company will never be able to build trust and loyalty if the CEO is regarded as not trustworthy. This is why I believe it has never been a better environment or time for building trust. The Trust Barometer 2019 states that people are looking for trust. They are likely to find it in their workplace when CEOs put Culture and Trust on top of the company’s agenda in 2019.