Can they trust you? Featured

6:38am EDT September 1, 2005
Do your employees trust you?

According to a survey conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, 60 percent of employees don’t trust their bosses. The biggest problem? Lack of communication.

It’s hard to understand how a middle-market organization can function effectively without trust in its leadership. Trust is a basic component of any company’s performance, and how effective can a leader be if he or she is not trusted? Just as important, how can a leader who isn’t trusted create a culture that promotes ethical behavior?

In the middle-market world, there are both extremes — organizations where trust and ethics form the cornerstone of the organizational culture and those where the line between truth and fiction has become so blurred that little can be taken at face value.

Employees in companies built on trust and ethics often perform well above what is expected because they trust and respect leadership. In these organizations, trust and ethics typically result in strong customer loyalty.

Customers trust they are getting honest answers, prices and service and consider these suppliers as partners, not simply vendors. They know that should they experience a problem, they will be treated fairly and ethically.

At the other extreme are companies that do not put trust and ethics on the leading edge of their missions. Some actually seem to search for ways to eliminate trust and to function unethically. Employees typically are uncomfortable at these businesses, and when asked to cover up or lie to other employees or customers, often leave.

Customers tend to be short-term — they seldom give a company that doesn’t treat them ethically and truthfully a chance to do it again.

Trust and ethics are golden commodities. They are hard to establish because they require total dedication to the ideal and then proof through action. Telling potential employees or customers that you and your organization are ethical and can be trusted is not enough. Your actions need to follow your promises and trust can only be gained through repetition.

Once established, it must be guarded judiciously and become your ongoing mission; you can destroy years of effort with a single action.

Joel Strom (jstrom@cp-advisors.com) is the founder of Joel Strom Associates. His firm works with closely held businesses and their ownership, helping them set and achieve their growth objectives while maximizing their profitability and value. Reach him at (216) 831-2663.