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6 Ways to Build Trust in the Boardroom

  • 30th Aug'22

"Trust takes years to create, seconds to shatter, and eternity to repair." Over the past years, I've worked with leaders and teams at a variety of organizations across industries, and I've seen how trust creates opportunities and can help people and businesses thrive beyond their wildest dreams. I've seen teams and leaders overcome problems with trust to emerge stronger and more effective. Without trust, I've seen how business may stall or even stop.

Those that do it well promote compassion, empathy, and sincerity to establish solid, reliable bonds that boost employee engagement, retention, and business outcomes. Let's examine the trusting environment in which we currently live and conduct business, as well as what leaders can do to foster trust inside their organizations.


Is Trust Important?

According to 77% of respondents worldwide, "my employer" is the most dependable organization (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2022). This year's annual research, now in its 22nd year, found higher levels of trust in business (61%) than in NGOs (59%), government (52%), and media (50%).

Despite an increase in consumer trust in businesses, employee loyalty is not a given the record-breaking turnover rates firms are currently seeing. Trust is more crucial than ever as businesses move past the pandemic and create their new reality. 

In the current corporate environment, it is extremely difficult to:

  • Use a remote or hybrid workforce

  • Make the workplace meaningful for the employees

  • Engage and keep great talent on your teams.

  • Maintain or expand your brand

  • Expand your company and achieve the desired outcomes.


With workers quitting their jobs in record numbers, CEOs have a golden opportunity to grasp it, increase employee trust in the company, and keep their staff.


Leaders must be trustworthy in the following ways:

  • Following through on your commitments (being dependable and consistent)

  • Being amiable and approachable (people trust leaders they like)

  • Promoting humanity, empathy, and truth

  • Demonstrating your team members' support even when they make mistakes (and admitting to your own)

  • Juggling the demand for outcomes with respecting other people's sentiments

  • Putting forth a lot of effort to win others over by respecting their thoughts and perspectives

  • Make sure your words and deeds are consistent. The majority of the time, not just occasionally


The Definition of Trust in the Boardroom

We also need to look beyond these kinds of pragmatic concerns to define trust. A more profound version has a stronger emotional reaction. This includes the confidence that managers are on "their side," that workers will be treated fairly and respectfully, and that failures will be viewed favorably or at the very least won't have particularly bad repercussions.

The power of a leader to inspire and encourage workers is impacted by both sides of the trust equation. People have faith in your judgment when they trust you. They will be impacted by your leadership even in times of uncertainty. That is because they count on you to carry out your commitments.

Building trust in the workplace and, ultimately, for the success of an organization depends on your ability to make your words and actions consistent. Employees frequently report that the actions and words of leaders have the greatest influence on how they perceive an organization. Employee engagement and commitment to the company are less likely to increase when there is a mismatch between a leader's words and deeds.

If you want to gain the trust of your employees and include them in the organization, actions are what really count. Starting with the boss, involvement at every level is necessary to forge a strong sense of believability that inspires workers to put up the effort required to ensure the success of their company.


Tips to Build and Maintain Trust in the Boardroom


1. Induction 

As soon as a new Board member joins the team, it's crucial to establish connections with all of their coworkers. It can be beneficial to schedule some social time before, during, or after their first Board meeting to allow for informal interaction, possibly over food.


2. Board Away Days 

These are really valuable opportunities for the Board to step back, reflect, take stock, and plan for the future.  They’re also a perfect opportunity for a more relaxed and informal way of working, with small groups undertaking useful thinking tasks, and hopefully having some fun!


3. Performance reports

The management team must present the board with a thorough and accurate view of the business's accomplishments, failures, significant errors, and developing hazards. We hear Boards use the phrase "How can we know what we don't know" far too frequently. Instead, hiding issues in the expectation that they would be resolved before the Board learns about them, managers should bring any concerns to the Board's attention and use their experience as part of the solution. When mistakes aren't repeated, admitting fault can actually increase trust.


4. Concentrate on producing results

Continue spending time and other resources on learning and development to further enhance performance in the designated priority areas. Make sure an organizational culture is established so that everyone takes ownership of performing well in their roles and reporting results regularly.


5. Listen 

Prioritize listening intently to others. Before stating your own opinions on the matter, try to understand those of others.


Review, review, review!  

The Board needs to evaluate how well it is performing its duties at least once a year. The Board should hire an impartial outside expert every three years to evaluate its performance and assist in creating a governance action plan for the next year. A "Review of Contribution" session between the Chair and each Board member should take place at least once a year. Some of our clients are now requesting us to help them create a 360-degree evaluation process, where each member of the board (and occasionally top management) gives each of their coworker's individualized input. Any expenditure that promotes the Board's ongoing learning and development is worthwhile.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.


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