Join Us as we Reframe the Way we Manage Change

How can leaders build trust?

Written: June 23, 2014, by Nancy Harkrider

Change_building trustOne of the challenges of leading change that is “owned” by everyone up and down the organization is to create a sense of safety for people to be open about their concerns — a critical element of sustainable change.

This is going to be a particularly interesting round because we have contributors from all over the planet who function inside their own culture and cross bridges to be effective with cultures different than their own. We know cultural competency in the 21st century is a must!


Categories: Awareness Reframing Change

Tags: building trust cultural competency sustainable change

4 responses to “How can leaders build trust?”

  1. Eugene Reyes says:

    This is a particularly interesting management issue for me as I consider the trust relationship between the governance i and the governed in any organization. When an organization enjoys continuing success in achieving its goal, whether it’s about earning margins, market size, investor’s funding, or growth in subscribers or customer base, the employees naturally will attribute the success factor not just to some strategic or innovative management policy decision but to the dedicated hard work implemented at the ground level by the rank and file in furtherance of the goal.

    But when the strategy that contributed to earlier success has plateaued and growth rates are no longer spectacular, management implements change through policy adjustment, refinement or even a directional shift with the overall goal of reaching new targets. This is a critical point because the people doing the implementation are forced to reckon with the change in the way business is conducted and may not easily adopt the policy shift in strategies, and also may resist adapting new, untried methodologies –a shift from “business as usual” to “business unusual”.

  2. Tan Kim Leng says:

    As a facilitator of change, we notice very often that people affected by change are very suspicious of the organisation’s purpose of the change initiative. Employees who have seen many botched change initiatives typically have very low trust of the management who espoused the need for another new round of change. Due to this low trust level, many chose to sit on the fence and hope the change initiative would pass quickly and survive another wave of management high concept. The outcome is predictable and unfortunately propagates a vicious cycle that drains the organisation’s limited energy to deal with the badly needed change to advance itself.
    To earn the trust of the employees, any change initiative or programme needs to begin by putting people right at the centre. Change that is supported by the employees involves having good transparency on the purpose of the need for change and authentic concern on the employees’ ability to embrace new roles and the adjustments required for future. A simple but powerful approach we found helpful in building trust early among the employees is to involve them in co-creating a future that they can appreciate deeply and commit to the cause. An open dialogue about the positive vision of the organisation is often what is needed to generate an inspirational impetus that fosters trust and teamwork that sets the course for a change that matters successfully.

  3. Anjena says:

    One of the sources of resistance to change is distrust. For example, distrust in why an organisation is bringing on board a particular change. People often have misgivings about whether the real reason for change has been shared with them. In countries where rumours spread like wildfire, such doubts in which direction a change initiative is actually leading an organisation can become a stumbling block.

    Therefore it is crucial that leaders are able to reach out to their people and build trust. How that trust is built will depend on the leader himself and values of the organisation.

    The approach described by Kim Leng on the co-creating of a shared future through open dialogue, and with a resulting sense of commitment and teamwork among employees, is one with which I concur. I believe it lays the foundation for building trust as the latter does not happen overnight. Indeed I see building trust as a continuous process and I think that leaders who have a high level of awareness will be able to understand the uniqueness of their organisation and the context and environment in which they operate and engage accordingly in relevant activities which builds trust.

  4. Rosa M. Mollo says:

    Trust is not something that can be improvised as part of an agenda to avoid resistance to change. In business as in life, trust cannot be built based on sporadic and strategic actions. In order to create lasting agreements or partnerships, trust it has to be always the result of a continuum, a coherent whole of actions based fundamentally on credibility, respect and fairness.

    As facilitators of change, it is good to know in advance what level of trust we will face before to launch any sustainable change initiative. Distrust is a major player in the process, and if we want all those fence sitters and, of course, also the naysayers, become involved, building trust needs to be part of the process too. To achieve the desired outcome, my experience says that this can be only done by being truthful. Particularly when the sponsor does not have a good reputation or sufficient history of trust among the employees, transparency is, more than ever, THE key factor of a change initiative that earns the personnel’s confidence.

    Building a strong “ Case for the Change”, truly listening to those that have objections and misgivings about whether the real reason has been shared with them is the best, perhaps the only way, to co-create that sense of a shared future that you all, my dear colleagues, are talking about.

    Warren Buffet said once: “Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everyone feels”. Perhaps it’s time to make it visible and tangible through a sustainable change.

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