How to maintain trust in a time of change
Tom Morselli
August 8, 2017

Leading a business is difficult. Industry innovation and market development happen quickly and many companies – especially those in the digital space – must evolve their core focus over time. This is especially true for digital marketers, who are experiencing rapid changes in their industry and have to adapt quickly to survive. While the need to pivot is not uncommon, how leadership manages the transition is critical to the ultimate success of the business.

When team goals change, there is the potential risk of creating tension within an organization. A trust gap between management and employees can further complicate the already difficult process of growing a business. It’s therefore crucial for business leaders to avoid this pitfall and implement a culture of mutual trust across their organization. Here are four ways leadership can establish trust to drive success:

Walk the walk 

Leaders must show that they trust others in order to build trust in leadership, the company mission and among teammates. Establishing trust takes hard work. It must be earned by keeping promises, following through and aligning leadership style with the company’s core values. In high-trust environments, people focus on solutions, and don’t point fingers. This leads to collaboration, an open exchange of ideas and successful problem solving.

Transparency and communication

A conscious combination of transparency and communication helps to establish and maintain trust. When companies change their business goals, it is important to share with employees why the decision was made, the plan for going forward, and what role everyone will play. Success means keeping the team informed and aligned in real-time. Communication flow should be both formal (through weekly town halls, stand ups, 1:1s, etc.) and informal, and it must be encouraged from the top. 

Accountability

Accountability is crucial to building trust. Trust erodes quickly if you fail to meet your commitments. Be realistic and upfront in setting goals to move the business in the new direction. This will establish a clear understanding of each team members’ role and responsibilities and ensures accountability.

Don’t be complacent

Industry leaders maintain their position by bringing new ideas to the table and continuously seeking opportunities for growth. Fresh, innovative thinking sets the bar high and keeps people engaged and inspired. The goal is to create an environment where every employee trusts that their contribution is valued which then fosters innovation and creativity from all team members throughout the organization. 

Trust is critical to organizational success no matter how large or small the business, and this is especially true during times of organizational change. Through maintaining channels of communication, clearly articulating business goals and objectives and establishing a culture of follow through and innovation, leaders can build trust with and among their teams to help drive growth. This is an ongoing effort, and needs to be a continual focus for successful organizational culture even after the pivot is completed.

Tom Morselli is senior vice president of people operations at PulsePoint. He holds an MA in Industrial Organizational Psychology from the University of Hartford.