PwC has recently conducted an extensive research study on the topic of trust in organizations. They asked consumers, employees, and executives about the factors that enhance trust in a business. Among consumers and employees, the top three factors that build trust were:
1. Accountable to customers and employees
2. Clear communications
3. Admits to mistakes
I found #3 particularly interesting, and of course, it relates directly to the top item in the survey responses (accountability). Every organization will make mistakes. How does that firm respond in those situations? Do they own the mistakes, apologize to customers and/or employees, and work diligently and transparently to rectify the situation? All too often, executives don't own up to mistakes in a timely fashion, if at all. Or, they try to blame external conditions or uncontrollable factors for lower-than-expected performance. Customers and employees see right through such unsatisfactory explanations. Employees also come to believe that a double standard exists. They are held accountable for errors, but executives are not. Leaders need to create a safe environment where everyone, including the people at the top, can talk candidly about errors so that learning and improvement can take place.