7 ways to create a culture of trust

12 April 2017
12 April 2017, Comments: 0

A study in SA Journal of Industrial Psychology titled “An organisational culture model to promote creativity and innovation” showed that a culture of trust influenced the degree to which creativity and innovation are stimulated and promoted.

If culture is “a set of beliefs, often unspoken, that govern how people decide what to do,” and trust is “to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable” do you have a culture where trust is a key belief?

In an ideal world …

  1. the policemen would be English
  2. the car mechanics would be German
  3. the cooks would be French
  4. the innkeepers would be Swiss
  5. and the lovers would be Italian


In the opposite world …

  1. the policemen would be German
  2. the car mechanics would be French
  3. the cooks would be English
  4. the innkeepers would be Italian
  5. and the lovers would be Swiss


This is funny because we make assumptions about countries and their cultures.

Do you know what assumptions your staff are making about your organizational culture? Do they assume they are safe when they share an innovative idea? Or do they stifle their creativity because it is not supported?

Trust has been correlated to increased profit. The Harvard Business Review published an article called “The High Cost of Lost Trust” (2002) in which hotels were substantially more profitable where employees strongly believed their managers followed through on promises and demonstrated the values they preached. The link was so strong, that a one-eighth point improvement in a hotel’s score could be expected to increase the hotel’s profitability by 2.5% of revenues, which translated to a profit of more than $250,000 per year per hotel!

No other single aspect of manager behavior had as large an impact on profits as trust in the study.

It seems that if employees don’t trust their leaders, they lack commitment, and suppress new ideas. This results in reduced customer satisfaction, higher turnover and reduced profit.

So how do you create a culture of trust?

  1. Align your words and actions – your employees are watching
  2. Keep your promises – if you can’t keep promises then apologize and tell them why you can’t keep it
  3. Reward creativity – it builds trust
  4. Act consistently – don’t manage by the latest bestseller
  5. Ask your employees for ways to improve trust – they have great ideas
  6. Question assumptions – look at your current culture
  7. Review your processes and structures – to ensure they enable trust


I’d love to talk to you about creating a culture of trust, a culture that supports creativity! Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com


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