Richard Batchelor

Change Management & Strategic Human Resources

October 13 2011

Trust & Change

I have been coming across the word trust more and more frequently lately. Yes a large amount of that has to do with a particular work project I’m involved in but within the change management and human resources sphere it is appearing time and again.

I’m not going to even attempt to define trust here as I’d like this to be just a blog post not a full blown essay! I guess it’s sufficient to say that trust is a reflection of belief in someone to be honest, truthful and respected for it. In all aspects of management the need to develop and create trust between colleagues, managers and any stakeholder is important. This is equally so when dealing with change management. How?

If you have a high level of trust within your workforce and you determine a change needs to take place, then it is likely to go through far more smoothly than where there is distrust or suspicion in the workplace. As change managers we often talk about the organizational culture and this is one of the core components of it. Describing the culture of an organization will often describe the workforce view of the business and relate this to trust elements and various components you could use to describe trust.

As change managers we are at the organizational culture to assess its capability for change. We will consider the transparency of communications, respect for leadership, understanding of job purpose and organizational fit, amongst many other elements. I chose those three areas because I wanted to highlight the three elements I see as not only reflecting  organizational culture but the presence and level of trust within the organization.

Consider transparency of communications. With no hidden agendas and everyone being communicated to clearly, constructively and without prejudice, the workforce will believe they are knowledgeable about everything happening and will trust the business to be honest with them and not keep anything from them.

With the transparency of communications we lead into respect for those making those communications. No matter what the content or purpose of the communications, when the workforce believes there is nothing being hidden from them, then they respect the vehicle being used to communicate it. Respect of the leaders, based around their belief in open and honest communications from them, in confirmed over time.

When communications across the whole of the organization is trusted by the workforce and the leaders from first manager through to CEO are also trusted, it is very likely that the individual will not only understand the business strategy but they will understand how their contribution to the business helps achieve this. When they understand their role and responsibilities interacting with the business, they are trusted to perform and the trust is demonstrated downwards as well as upwards.

Having this core trust developed within the organization will make life so much easier for the change manager. Yes, trust helps so many other elements of the business workplace – increasing performance, collaboration and self-value. But when it comes to assessing change readiness, likelihood and ease of adoption as well as the ability to integrate a change within the functions of a business, then a high level of trust makes it so much easier.

So many times I face the challenges of influencing, persuading or just trying to gain acceptance of a change, because there is a lack of trust of management or the organization as a whole. If there was a high level of trust in place then my job would be so much easier. However, the business with a high level of trust perhaps wouldn’t have such a great need for change managers – although that is probably another conversation, or blog post!


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