Personal Finance

Painful steps of rebuilding trust in your organisation


Following last week’s Business Talk article delineating the latest research on repairing trust within entities, several readers inquired as to what methods an organisation can utilise to repair trust if the violation(s) were not tied to only a specific individual.

Interestingly, the process for a company to repair damaged trust stands differently than for individual leaders that were referenced last week. 

Building off of research highlighted in the Business Daily in 2013, many organizations lose employee trust through various organisational crises.  Some trust violations occur on such a massive scale that becomes an organisational crisis.

Research across many industries and companies conducted by Graham Dietz and Nicole Gillespie show that a company must undergo specific steps to fix trust so as to improve organisational performance following a crisis of any of these eight (8) proportions: accounting frauds, deceit, incompetence, fatal yet avoidable accidents, exploitation of vulnerable people, massive compulsory job losses, bankruptcies, and catastrophic collapses in organisational finances.

When an entity undergoes one of the above crises, it must quickly institute the following four stages in order to rebuild employee trust and turnaround performance:

First stage: the firm must verbally and publicly acknowledge that an incident occurred and express regret and sorrow for it.  Then an announcement about a full investigation that should take place must transpire. Next the organisation needs to commit resources to prevent the reoccurrence of such an event in the future.  The company then steps forward and takes intervention action against known causes for the crisis.

Second stage: an accurate organisation-wide multilevel thorough diagnostic investigation should take place in a timely and deeply transparent manner.  Do not merely announce a committee but never give updates.  Actually show the results and be open and honest about what takes place.

Third stage: the firm should then verbally apologize if the investigation shows its guilt and make reparations, or payments and actions, to right the wrong as appropriate. Apologies help others to refocus and move on.

The company action should incorporate the results from the diagnostic investigation conducted in stage two with full implementation and prioritize solution mechanisms according to the type of failure that led to the crisis.

Fourth stage: finally, the company must now conduct an evaluation of the success and appropriateness of the first three stages.  The evaluation should take place quickly and transparently and cover the whole organisation on multiple levels.

Once an organisation completes the four post-crisis trust repair stages, employee commitment and trust begin to improve and company performance goes up.  All hope for a successful future does not crumble following a violation or failure. 

But getting back on the right track quickly and effectively requires you to implement the above organisation-wide trust repair tactics.  Business exists as a science, but most people unknowingly approach it as an art.

Consultants may gladly charge you millions of Kenyan Shillings to advise you on repairing trust after an organisation-level failure.  But consultants would rarely know the science underpinning what actions should be taken.  Save your money and proceed forward using the above four research-proven steps.