Trust is a critical foundation for any organization; employees learn that companies and people in those companies behave in routine ways across a number of situations that they encounter. Unfortunately destroying trust can be very quickly done by suddenly changing things, or otherwise hitting a very high randomization level for employees. Here is how to destroy organizational trust with employees in three easy steps.
- Random Changes in how things are done
- Not communicating change
- Changes haphazardly implemented
Looking at all three of these is one way of looking at how trust is based on behaviors of people and processes within an organization.
Randomizing change is generally something that will annoy folks because we get used to doing things in a certain way or in a certain fashion. One of the biggest failure points in any project is to design a new system or make changes to a system that alters how a person does their job. When changes are made most people want those changes to enhance how they do their job, but not change how they do their job. From a programming and project management perspective, random changes often drive users insane because they get used to building out their work based on previous experience. We all know and understand previous experience and use that to define how we complete work. Just when we think we get what is going on, putting in a random change often upsets the balance in how people do things. Keeping people off balance not knowing what is going to happen next causes a lot of mistrust in the system, the organization, and the people who are involved in the process.
Not Communicating Change
This is another way to destroy trust in an organization, not communicating change. Surprises are often not a good thing when people are doing work on a system. If the F5 button always means refresh the screen, changes to that function my moving it to F10 can often disrupt work flow. Not communicating that change from F5 to F10 means that people will not know there is a change, and find the expected behavior of the system does not conform to what we knew in the past. If this change was not communicated, people will have a very hard time adjusting to the changes, and will often get angry or upset wanting to know why they were not told.
Changes Haphazardly Implemented
Consistency is good, but when changes are not uniformly implemented across a project or a program, problems start to creep into the process that magnify points two and three. If the changes are not uniform throughout the project where everyone is part of the change at the same time, then many parts of the project get thrown off track and people will start to resist if not actively disengage from the project and its goals.
The key to rebuilding trust in the organization after something like this is to do damage control as soon as possible. Offer the formal apology, get people together and discuss the issues. Work out how to effectively communicate the concerns and issues with what they are seeing and thinking, along with fixes and recommendations from the community that is involved with the process. It will take a while for trust to be built back up, but in the end by addressing the communication issues and understanding we are creatures of habit, we can often repair any damage that was done.
(Cross-posted @ IT ToolBox)