7 ways to build trust internally

Reprint news stories critical of the organization? Are you nuts? Actually, that is a great way to increase your employees’ trust in you to tell the truth.

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations, and interactive courses. Click here for more on this session.

Want to erode trust in your organization? William Amurgis has some examples of how companies have done just that.

Consider the chief information officer who said, “We cannot afford to be great. Good is good enough”—thereby encouraging employees to settle for mediocrity.

Or the legal executive who received a suggestion that a company buy smartphones for its mobile workforce, and responded, “Does the employee understand that his job is to implement policy, not make it?”

“I never like it when we play, ‘I can’t talk to you. You’re beneath me,'” responds Amurgis, an internal communications consultant.

If you’re seeking to win their trust in your leadership, take some tips from Amurgis in the newly released Ragan Training video, “How to make your intranet trustworthy.”

As former director of internal communications at American Electric Power, Amurgis says communicators should be worried to learn that only 19 percent of employees trust leaders to make moral and ethical decisions, and just 18 percent trust them to tell the truth, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.

Yet if you want to be a great place to work, trust is the No. 1 characteristic, Amurgis says.

Here are some tips to build that trust:

1. Bring the outside in

“Come on, folks,” you may want to tell skeptical employees. “I’m telling the truth.”

If you’re only presenting them with your rah-rah viewpoint, they won’t buy it. “Employees will not always trust your corporate, sanitized perspective,” Amurgis says.

One way to do this is to share both compliments and criticism from customers or stakeholders. Similarly, bring in the media’s perspective.

AEP subscribed to Copyright Clearance Center, which afforded it the legal right to republish stories from sources such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Every day it published three or four stories pertinent to the company—even if they were critical.

This video clip is taken from the Ragan Training session, “How to make your intranet trustworthy.”

2. Show respect

Don’t be like that irksome legal guy we mentioned before. “If you want people to trust you, trust them,” Amurgis says.

At AEP, the first two points on the employee guidelines say:

  • We encourage you to participate
  • We trust you to behave professionally

He adds that the company never added a “report abuse” link on its intranet because that’s a sign it doesn’t trust employees.

3. Be accessible—and load quickly on mobile

Make it so the people can reach your intranet, at all hours on all devices. And don’t create an onerous sign-in process that takes several minutes to authenticate. People with mobile devices want quick access. Don’t weigh down your pages with extraneous information.

4. Open yourself to their perspectives

One great way to make your intranet relevant is to allow comments on your posts. And quit worrying about what the masses will say.

“It doesn’t matter really as much what people say or how they comment,” Amurgis says. “The mere fact they were inspired to comment meant they absorbed the key messages we wanted them to get-and that alone is valuable.”

5. Follow consumer trends

Years ago, people used to tell an IT friend of Amurgis’: “You must be really smart. You work in Internet technology.”

Nowadays, they say: “You’re the source of my problems. You’re preventing me from being more productive.”

In many organizations, consumer technology has bypassed workplace technology. Get up to speed with what they’re doing at home and on their devices.

6. Pay attention to detail

Get names, facts, figures, and the identity of people in photographs right. Fail to do so, and you’re telling them they’re not important. If you make a mistake (and hey, we all do), speed matters when you have to correct something.

7. Be fresh and timely

Change everything on the front of the intranet site daily. “You raise the level of trust if people know that when they come to the intranet, they’re seeing what’s happening right now,” Amurgis says.


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