Investing in Trust

I’ve been speaking and writing a lot about the importance of using transparency to build trust with employees, focusing on how trust is the foundation of a positive culture and strong employee engagement. Most of the questions I’ve been getting at conferences and via email are about how to execute that strategy using enterprise video and how to work with executives that may not be dynamic in front of the camera. These questions are all good, and you can read a piece I wrote a while back on this exact topic. It’s a good outline of how to think about the problem and where to start.

With the recent public issues at Wells Fargo, Uber, Zenefits and recently at Tanium regarding culture and trust with the CEO, I’m now getting more questions about crisis communications strategies. I’ve answered those questions as well, but they make me realize something I think I’ve failed to make a big enough point about – urgency!

So many of the companies I speak with on this topic are always about to solve the trust problem. They are evaluating solutions for enterprise video, or getting ready to start a campaign with the CEO to increase trust and engagement. It drives me crazy to hear these discussions. Get going! Regardless of how well-run your company is, eventually you’ll have a crisis of some sort. It may not be fraud or inappropriate executive behavior, but something will cause crisis eventually.

Trust with employees can be easily viewed as a bank account. It’s a simple analogy to follow. Every time you do something positive on the transparency front, you make a deposit in the trust bank account with your employees. Every time something bad happens, an automatic deduction takes place.

Just like with our personal bank accounts, in times of crisis, the amount that gets drained from the account is usually larger than a typical deposit amount. It takes time to build up a cushion which is why you need to start immediately. We need to build up our trust account with employees like we put money in an emergency fund. Too many companies think about this after the fact.

The number one reason CEOs get replaced in times of crisis is that people have lost confidence, that politically correct term for no longer trusted. Weathering crisis is a matter of managing the level of the trust bank account with employees and other stakeholders. Every day that passes without making deposits into that account puts you one day closer to trust bankruptcy with employees. I’m being dramatic on purpose to make the point that these programs are like insurance. Spend the money and get on with it.

Use this bank account analogy to drive action. The enterprise video challenge is a solvable problem. Let us help you with that. Need help on game-planning for depositing trust in your employee trust bank account? Let me know and I’d be happy to help there as well!

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