Trust – The Competitive Advantage of 2014 ??

While working on my Ph.D., one of the research studies I did was about organizational trust and the impact of trust on an employee’s commitment to their organization and their desire to remain with the organization. Ninety-six people from one nationwide healthcare provider participated in my study with the results confirming what seems to be common sense: trust between an employee and their leader/manager does have a positive impact on the employee’s commitment to the organization and their desire to remain with the organization.

I haven’t done any other studies pertaining to trust, but I am always curious to hear peoples’ thoughts on organizational trust and it’s actually come up in conversation a couple of times in the last few weeks.

In one conversation I had with a friend in software development, he shared with me about how he loves his job, and the organization that he works for, but that one colleague of his, with whom he has to work very closely, is someone he simply cannot trust. He said that what started as the other person not following through on his word in one instance has now become a repeated pattern, so much so that my friend now documents conversations so that he has a paper trail to fall back on, if necessary. Though my friend is still committed to the organization and to his job, his inability to trust his co-worker has definitely soured his overall perspective about the organization.

Another conversation I had was with a woman who was with the juvenile justice system for over 30 years. She talked about how she and her two co-workers trusted and respected one another very much. She said that they were capable of having very heated discussions that could go on for hours but that they would always reach the resolution that was best for the organization. They each knew that the welfare of the organization, and its people, came before anything else and they trusted each other to get to that outcome, even if it meant that they had to really hash things out in order to get there.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, a friend of mine wrote that trust is the competitive advantage for 2014. He indicated that the equation for trust is: Credibility + Competence + Character = Trust. As I’ve thought about my friend’s assertion, I know in my heart of hearts that he is right. Trust, in our leaders and in our organization, is something that can truly propel an organization better, faster, and further than anything else can, but the pessimist in me, the one who worked for a company owned by the 2nd largest P.E. firm in the U.S. says, “but will it?” It seems to me that only the values-driven organizations will believe in my friend’s assertion enough to work to make it a reality, while everyone else leaves trust as that common sense thing that doesn’t actually get a seat at the table.

I wonder, what do you think?

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