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For executives who want to construct a successful organization, trust is one of the most essential building blocks. When employees, managers and leaders have confidence in one another and in the business itself, it allows people to operate more productively, to collaborate with greater efficacy and to innovate more freely. High-trust companies also tend to beat the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three. 

While the bottom-line impact is evident, what may still cause surprise is the disconnect between leaders’ perceptions and the actual levels of conviction within a firm. Most employers miscalculate their workforce’s level of belief by almost 40%. Another research report found that leaders overestimated how much they themselves were entrusted by 45%.  

These misconceptions can create obstacles. If confidence is lower than anticipated, leaders are likely to find it more challenging to push initiatives forward, engage in honest discussions and recognize the workplace challenges that may impact performance. 

Before companies can strengthen belief and realize the benefits that come along with it, it’s important to first analyze existing levels of trust. Use the framework outlined below to take action and measure the current state of your organization. 

Evaluating Trust 

#1 – Determine the Goals and Audience  

First, consider the intent and objectives of the analysis. Some thought starters to help inspire clarity include: 

  • What is the number one thing the company wants to get out of the evaluation? 
  • Is the goal to uncover high-level sentiments or identify specific areas for development? 
  • Which employee group(s) does the business seek to understand? 
  • What does success look like when the data has been gathered and studied? 

Having clarity on the purpose of measuring trust levels will allow the firm to make thoughtful decisions about the scope, composition and contributors of the initiative.   

#2 – Explore Options to Anonymize Information 

A trust analysis can return a significant amount of information about an individual’s perception of leadership, the corporation at large, their teams or colleagues. The evaluations can also reveal trend data by exploring insights among different levels of the workforce, departments or tenures.  

While this detail can be beneficial, remember that existing confidence levels within the organization will impact an employee’s willingness to identify who they are in a survey. In some cases, staff may be comfortable providing their name or they may wish to remain fully anonymous. In other cases, people are likely to fall somewhere across these two sides of the spectrum, where they may be open to providing some identifying information. 

Strike a balance to encourage truthful responses by considering the company’s intentions with the data to determine how much detail the firm truly requires about its participants. 

#3 – Identify Preferred Format & Delivery 

There are many ways to solicit input from digital forms and surveys to focus groups and one-to-one interviews. Each type of collection method has distinct benefits and potential drawbacks.  

Surveys are often a good fit when trying to collect information from a large group of people or when there may be lower levels of faith inside the organization. However, it may be more challenging to uncover the nuances in responses using a standard form. One-to-one conversations and focus groups often produce greater depth of information and offer the opportunity to ask follow-up questions, yet individuals may hesitate to provide fully transparent responses if they do not feel safe to do so. 

To select the best format, consider the employee population(s) to be included, the amount of time participants will reasonably have to share their responses as well as the overall objectives identified in step 1. 

#4 – Reflect on Frequency  

Conviction is likely to shift based on changes inside and outside of the workplace. That means executives will likely need to assess trust periodically to get an accurate understanding of their workforce.  

The organization’s goals can guide the frequency of these check-ins. For example, if the business is seeking to evaluate high-level trends, leaders may wish to gauge staff perceptions on an annual or semi-annual basis. In comparison, if the organization is looking for feedback on specific adjustments they’ve made to heighten confidence, they may want to check in with staff periodically over the course of a few months. 

It’s also important to create a balance with other employee voice initiatives. Human Resources teams and executives are increasingly asking for staff input. While a positive transformation, it can lead to survey fatigue. Integrating these assessment questions into other workforce surveys, team meetings, polls at all-hands calls or other platforms can encourage higher levels of participation. 

#5 – Consider Questions to Include 

Identifying the questions that will be part of the surveys or interviews is paramount. The goals and participant time constraints will help to define the number of items to include in the initial evaluation.  

Be mindful to also consider a mix of rating and open-ended questions. Both serve a purpose, with ratings offering a quick way to quantify sentiments and open-ended queries providing opportunities for a participant to convey more personal sentiments. 

To design the assessment, a simple Google search will reveal thousands of potential questions that can lead to a host of ideas. I also recommend using the Emergenetics Attributes as a lens to reflect on what trust might look like to people who prefer to think and behave differently. The seven Attributes can reveal specific questions to ask to paint a holistic picture of belief in the company. To learn more about how to integrate Emergenetics, download our High Trust guide! 

HIgh-Trust Organization Guidebook

Trust can change the way a corporation operates. When businesses increase confidence, they speed up their growth, innovation and performance. By analyzing trust levels, leaders will take the first steps to support and spur belief in their organization.   

Learn how Emergenetics can empower you to create a high-trust environment. Explore our guide or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today. 

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