When you think about it, our economy is essentially a huge and complex network of relationships built on trust.
Organisations of all types, and the many relationships they have with key stakeholders such as employees, customers and suppliers, are functional because they trust each other. Some are more functional (and successful) than others and that’s largely because of the extent to which they are in trusting relationships.
Yet, we don’t always think about trust as a discrete thing that generates value. It just happens (or not). That’s possibly why it is under appreciated and under-utilised by organisations as a strategic asset.
The reality is that trust touches everything and everyone. It lies at the heart of every action, every relationship and every transaction in our society. Even the value of our money is underpinned by the presence of widespread trust as is our online economy. Trust is fundamental to the human experience.
We live in an increasingly complex and interdependent environment and know from our personal experiences that people and organisations can be and are unreliable. The more we depend on others, the greater the risk, yet we’ve learned to rely on each other in spite of those risks, thanks to trust.
However, various research studies indicate trust is in decline, across most industries and institutions. This has created an environment of uncertainty and, in some cases, anxiety and fear. The bar for being seen as trustworthy (the antecedent of trust) has never been higher.
Most of us deal with trust all the time in our daily lives, but our tribal instincts, where trust first emerged as a survival mechanism in early civilisation, continue to shape how we think about it. Our predisposition to trust is shaped by our genetic make-up and lived experiences and we tend to rely on them to make our trust/don’t trust decisions, including stereotypes, rather than the science and mechanisms that undoubtedly exist to help us manage trust.
When we rely on our instincts and stereotypes as our sole sources of guidance, we end up falling prey to untrustworthy people and miss out on opportunities to interact with trustworthy others. What’s required to supplement our instincts are sources of authentic and accurate information about the trustworthiness of others.
Trust is about making a choice. It requires of us a trade-off to balance the potential rewards against potential risks. But it’s not risk-less. If you trust someone or something, it means you are willing to enter into a risky environment and allow yourself to be vulnerable to another. Do I trust this person or not? Most importantly, if you manage an organisation, do others think you’re worthy of their trust?
Trust is the lubricant that keeps our social and business systems operating in a positive manner. It provides a great deal of efficiency by removing impediments to and accelerating positive outcomes, but it’s not a commodity that is easily bought. Building it requires a lot of effort because it is an investment in the future.
As you can see, trust matters, a lot. So it’s high time organisations unlocked its value as a strategic asset. What do you think?
Trust is the basis for all connection with others. In an organisational context, it is an ongoing relationship between an entity and its key stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers and investors. When performed with the right intent and a high degree of competence, your organisation’s actions can earn trust with these groups.
Trust is a strong differentiator for any organisation and a dominant driver of future business profit and growth. When you put trust at the forefront of your purpose, strategy, and execution, your stakeholders are more likely to trust you.
At MyNextAdvice, we’ve made trust tangible via our Trustgenie service—helping our clients measure, manage, and maximise trust at every opportunity. If your organisation is interested in unlocking the power and value of trust, MyNextAdvice can help.