While trust is an issue that never goes away, the last couple years have been seen a collapse in the trust that the public, employees and even companies have for corporations and many other organizations. Many organizations recognize that without trust from their key stakeholders, they can't operate properly.
However, once the leadership recognizes a problem, the next step is often to measure it. And trust is notoriously difficult to measure.
So, here at Trusted Advisor Associates, we've been analyzing, well, how to analyze trust. Today we'd like to talk about what we've come up with and are planning to introduce in the next few weeks: The Trust Audit.
Trustworthiness at the Organizational Level
I've been writing recently about a comprehensive approach to thinking about trust. Think of it as a two by three matrix.
On one axis, we have those who trust and those who are trusted; trusting, and being trustworthy. See for example Trust, Trusting and Trustworthiness.
On the other axis is "where" we find trust: interpersonal, organizational/institutional, and social.
We've talked a lot about being trustworthiness interpersonally. For example, if you haven't done so already, click to find your Trust Quotient™, your TQ™.
But how can we trust a business? What can an organization do to be trusted? To regain trust? And so forth. What's needed is the organizational equivalent of the TQ quiz: what's needed is a Trust Audit. And it's finally just about here.
For some time, Trusted Advisor Associates have been developing a tool aimed at assessing trustworthiness at the organizational level. We're announcing it now, even though it'll be a few weeks before it's website-deployed and open for business.
Introducing the Trust Audit
The purpose of the Trust Audit is to allow a company to take a systematic, high level look at its trustworthiness. More organizationally savvy than a financial audit; more market-focused than an employee engagement survey; and more culture-focused than a reputation survey.
The Trust Audit is not:
a. a longitudinal survey purporting to track trust over time
b. a public database
c. a best practices database
It is none of those things because we believe trust is situational, for organizations as well as for individuals. We are interested not in academic research per se, but in teeing up meaningful issues in a meaningful way for our clients.
What is the Trust Audit? The Trust Audit is private; results are known only to the company contracting for it. The Trust Audit is aimed at leadership teams, top management teams and Boards who are interested in taking a serious, objective look at how trustworthy they are seen to be, and at what they can do to improve.
The end result "deliverable" of the Trust Audit is a survey-based discussion around a Heat Map-a map of where the organization's biggest trust threats and trust opportunities lie.
Conceptually, The Trust Audit™ is built from the four Trust Principles (client focus, transparency, medium-to-long term focus, and collaboration), and from a modification of Weisbord's model of organizations - external relationships, leadership, structure, rewards, processes. Think a 4x5 matrix (come on you, you knew we're ex-consultants, you knew what to expect).
Mechanically, the Trust Audit starts with an online survey-20 questions, just like the TQ, one for each cell in the matrix. Respondents will come from external (customers, suppliers) and from internal (employees, leaders). There is no set number of respondents.
From the survey, the Heat Map is generated, and richer discussions (we have up to five areas to explore in each of the 20 cells) are held around the opportunities indicated.
If you're interested in learning more, stay tuned to this station, and/or contact Sandy Styer at [email protected]
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