Why Organizational Trust is Critical

Trust is most important element for any successful organization
May 04, 2021 · 2 min read

I’ve been wanting to reflect on these concepts for a while since I think that they are so critical to effective social organizations (companies, schools, nations, etc). With the timing and events of the world today this is true now more than ever. It is hard to have a successful community without trust. This is as true for corporations as it is for nations. During trying times, leaders and organizations built on trust will weather the storm and stick together. Right now I fear that we have arrived at a place in our society where trust is a “nice to have”, which is leading to a degradation of our long standing institutions. Now more than ever it’s critical that we demand more.

Anyone who has been in a longterm relationship understands the importance of trust. Many of us would never consider making a longterm commitment to a partner without confidence in this area. What I find interesting, and potentially troubling, is that we don’t seem to hold our institutions to the same standards. After having countless conversations with friends and colleagues it is clear that many work for organizations that they simply do not trust, and even actively despise. I’ve been there myself, and have fallen into the trap of thinking of work as a way to earn a living. Compensation for me was equal to trust. This is not true. The best organizations cascade trust by establishing values, policies and procedures that reinforce it over time. Inclusiveness, diversity, equitable workplaces, freedom, and autonomy are all consequences of a high trust organization. Without trust you cannot have a strong culture, and without a strong culture you cannot have strong teams, and without strong teams you cannot have strong institutions. Without strong institutions we are more susceptible to fear and panic during difficult times.

We need trust now more than ever. It can start small. It can be just talking about it more. We can hold ourselves to a higher standard and work for or build organizations that are trust-inducing, open and transparent. Not only are these the environments where we can reach our fullest potential, but through these types of organizations we can do work that has a positive impact and pushes society and the world forward.

I think Elliot Jaques said it best in his book Requisite Organization, “I take it as an absolute values… as indeed in any other social institution, the organizational arrangements — the structure and the process — all need to be tested, and firmly tested, against one single criterion: Do they induce and enhance people’s ability to trust each other and the organization? Or do they arouse suspicion and mistrust?”