A great way to measure the success of a conference is the number of times you have an “aha” moment. At blogINDIANA 2009, one comment in one presentation surpassed all the rest.
Although we’d like to say that our own session on Workplace Productivity and Blogging was the most influential, it was actually an offhand comment made by local entrepreneur Chris Baggott. As he pointed out in a blog post last year, people don’t trust blog posts attributed to top-level executives. In his presentation at blogINDIANA 2009, Baggott refined this information with data from the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer. His words:
According to the largest PR firm in the world, people trust CEO bloggers less than ever before: down from 36% to 29%. It’s more important than ever that your employees be blogging to build trust with your customers.
This is great news if you’re trying to sell corporate blogging software, but the Edelman report is not just about blogging, it’s about the degree to which the public trusts large organizations. One graph in particular is staggering:
Let’s highlight that figure: in America, 77% trust companies less than they did one year ago. If that trend continues, then it won’t be long until the mistrust of companies is rampant throughout not only America, but the world. That’s clearly a very bad sign for all companies, whether they’re already big or still growing.
The Edelman reports admits, “our survey did not ask why they had lost trust in companies,” but that is the essential question. Why are stakeholders becoming more suspicious of companies and CEO’s than ever before?
At AccelaWork, we believe the essential problem to loss of trust is caused by the failure to spread authority and responsibility throughout the organization. Employees have more training, more expertise, and more potential to innovate than ever before. Likewise, customers have more choices and know more about how products and services actually work. When met with the traditional, top-down, secrecy-based infrastructure of organizations, it’s no surprise that trust is in decline. Why trust a corporation or your boss when you have the feeling you could do it yourself?
Edelman’s website takes a step further in clarifying why this information is so important:
Building trust is essential to successfully bringing new products and services to market, and building trust in new business innovations requires that companies demonstrate clear personal and societal benefits, behave with integrity and engage with customers and stakeholders throughout the process.
If your employees have expertise in a certain area, it’d be foolish not to utilize that. No CEO should think that they’re the expert on every single facet of a business operation. There’s simply too many components in a large organization for that to be possible. It’s important to let those who specialize in various aspects of your workflow take the lead. Not only will those workers feel more valued, but they’ll also be able to push the company in the right direction. If a CEO does find him or herself in a position where they know the most about even the most minute portions of a process, then that may not be a sign that the CEO is an expert, but rather that training hasn’t been spread through an organization and employees aren’t put in a position to innovate. Either way, there’s a problem in place. Instead of not trusting employees, it’s time to fix that problem.
Don’t get trapped in a spiral of distrust. Open up to stakeholders. Show employees and customers that you trust them so that they have a reason to trust you. For more details on improving relationships through productivity and satisfaction, contact our Indianapolis consultants. We love to help organizations achieve more with less!