Trust exercise

Liz KentishKentish and Co and the People Experience Hub created a trust index to determine the levels of trust in FM and how it affects those who work within it, explains Liz Kentish.

The trust index is based on a questionnaire (120 responses) asking about trust and its relationship with wellbeing, communication, job satisfaction and belonging.

1. What motivated your research into trust? And why do this now?
It was the realisation that trust is the most important dimension of the complex relationship between a client and their service provider. We asked ourselves why it’s not explored and measured. It’s important to do this research now because as the pace of working lives continues to increase we want to help our colleagues in FM understand the core concept of trust in more depth so they have the tools to improve trust levels among their peers and extended FM teams.

2. How do you define trust?
We instinctively know if we trust someone or not. However, we wanted to get more granular with the various dimensions of trust, so we measure it across concentric circles around each individual:  

  • Trust in the FM industry;  
  • Trust from customers;  
  • Trust in their management relationship (working and personal aspects); and  
  • Trust from colleagues.

3. What is the relationship between trust and wellbeing?
Where people said they weren’t able to prioritise their own health and wellbeing, there were lower scores in dimensions of trust. People who couldn’t prioritise health and wellbeing felt that they couldn’t talk to their managers about it. Where people said they were unable to prioritise these areas, only 36 per cent of them said they felt they worked in an industry that was secure, compared with a baseline of 63 per cent.

Are people who have low wellbeing less trusting? Probably, based on experiences they have. From our research, it looks like there’s a correlation.

4. Trust leads to more motivated staff, shows the research.
How can managers assess whether or not their team members trust them? In organisations with a high level of trust, there was a 10-percentage points increase in motivation, and a 16 per cent increase in advocacy and satisfaction. This implies that staff are more productive and more likely to recommend FM as a sector to join.

Conversely, in organisations with low levels of trust we noted an 8-percentage point decrease in motivation and a 55-percentage point decrease in advocacy and satisfaction.

Managers can survey their teams on a regular basis to assess the levels of trust and how to improve it. It’s best to make such surveys anonymous, possibly using a third party to conduct them.

5. How can these same leaders work to improve their employees’ trust 
in them?

One simple thing they can do is communicate more. We asked respondents whether they had the communication they needed about what was going on in their business. When they didn’t get enough, there was a 50-percentage point decrease in advocacy, and an equal percentage point decrease in customer trust.

6. In what ways can a loss of trust be regained in a setting between provider and client and also between manager/employer and report/employee?
Most of the challenges between a provider and client involve trust issues – the lack of it or an imbalance. If one can identify the trust issues, then  frequently the challenges start to resolve themselves.

Have honest conversations, ideally in an off-site setting. For a client and provider, a third party can mediate and help to draw out and articulate the challenges and help them work together to rebuild the trust.

For managers and their individual reports, the same advice applies to change the environment to have what may be a difficult conversation. It is about honest and clear communication and finding ways to prove that trust is being restored.  

Liz Kentish is managing director and co-founder of Kentish and Co

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