• Scott McInnes

#26 | The truth, the whole truth ...

I was walking through town last week and, in the window of Hodges & Figgis book shop, this quote caught my eye. It’s one of the ‘12 rules for life’ in Jordan B Peterson’s book.

‘Tell the truth - or at least don’t lie’

It struck a chord because, for me, honesty is at the very heart of strong culture. Having integrity and doing what you say you'll do is key to building engaged teams as well. And this is particularly important when thinking about communicating with staff in times of organisational change.

Unfortunately we live in a world of distrust and it's almost becoming our steady state - a case of everyone being 'guilty until proven innocent'.

Of course that's been front and centre in recent months with Trump and the growth in 'fake news'. And, more recently, high profile data breaches in Facebook and Grindr have featured in the news too. Both those companies are facing significant loss of trust among their users after massive data breaches surfaced in he media. Facebook appears to have let a third party data company scrape the details of 87m users from its site - a lot of which was reportedly used to sway election results. While Grindr shared personal data regarding HIV status and sexual orientation of its members with third parties.

So who can we trust? Edelman's 2018 Trust Barometer shows that the media, politicians and big business are getting a hammering. However, there is a ray of welcome sunshine - the same study showed that 72% of us trusted our employers to do the right thing. Phew!

That's good news, particularly when the findings also highlighted that 42% of respondents didn't know which brands or companies to trust. The need for employees to act as advocates for their companies couldn't be more important.

And that starts on the inside.

So how can you build trust?

Role model - Act with integrity and deal with people in an open and honest way to set an example for those in your teams and those around you. Be the kind of person you want your people to be.

Just don't lie - Let's be realistic - it isn't always possible to tell the truth as organisations go through change. There are often multiple balls in the air, each of which has an impact on the next. There will be times where you just can't tell people what's happening. However .....

If you can’t say anything, don’t say nothing - There are times when you won’t be able to give an update. But don’t let that be an excuse for silence. Perhaps the update is simply a case of “there are a number of things going on, many of which are very sensitive and none of which I can share with you right now - when I can I will”. To say nothing at all is to leave a void that your people will fill with speculation and guesswork.

Have conversations- Honesty and integrity aren’t just about you telling the truth, it’s about you being open to hearing it too. So create a safe and trusted environment for your team where you can have open, honest and challenging conversations.

Do what you say you’ll do - This one’s simple - if you agree to do something, just do it! Simple! That may mean thinking a little harder about what you agree to - I wrote an article on keeping promises a few weeks ago that's worth a look. During change you often hear the “I commit to updating you weekly” line. It's said in good spirit, happens for a few weeks and then there’s nothing to report. So people get frustrated. And then those updates slip to fortnightly, then monthly and then they slip away altogether. Perhaps considering committing to ‘regular updates’ instead? Think about what you agree to.

Just take a few minutes to ask yourself 'what more can I do to build trust with my team?'. Maybe it'll be a couple of the things above or maybe something totally different?


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