Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, famously said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundation principle that holds all relationships.”
Trust in a company is being confident in its culture of honesty and integrity. Through trust, customers and employees recognize the abilities and strengths of a company and believe it will perform as publicized.
Construction companies typically rank in three levels of trust:
- Very high – Trust extends throughout the company and is integral to the working environment and performance.
- Above average – Strong trust is mixed with feelings of suspicion by some individuals.
- Mediocre – Trust is inconsistent among internal groups, with individuals acting in their own best interest rather than for the company.
Levels of Trust
As reported in Digital Builder construction blog, a 2020 global study conducted by Autodesk and FMI found that the majority of construction professionals have an above average level of trust in their company. That doesn’t sound so bad; initially many of us would consider “above average” acceptable. And it would be if you’re making chicken soup. However, the survey also found that only 37% of construction professionals have high levels of trust in the company they work for – and the numbers are similar in other industries. When you are constructing a building or a highway project, even a small spirit of distrust can cost a company in labor efficiency, safety, employee turnover, and profit.
Companies with the highest levels of trust have some notable characteristics, including being:
- More collaborative
- Committed to sharing project information openly
- Dedicated to employee development
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How to Invest in Building Trust
Trust is an essential cornerstone of your business, and it can be built and strengthened over time. The Autodesk-FMI report explained how your entire company can be involved as you intentionally foster a culture of trust.
- Define trust for your team. The definition of trust should include internal levels among employees and departments. It should include what to expect when working with other companies on a project.
- Measure existing levels of trust. With a simple survey about expectations on projects you’ve worked on, you can determine how employees rate trust inside your company, as well as externally with partners and subcontractors.
- Reduce sources of uncertainty. The overall company environment should be consistent and focused on solutions. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities should be defined and accountable. Employees should receive feedback on their efforts, positive and negative.
- Make it easier to collaborate. Communication should be easy, direct and clear. Using a single source of truth for data can keep everyone in the loop and on the same page during a project – the fewer surprises the better.
- Responsibility starts at the top. Leaders need to take responsibility for challenges as well as successes. When leaders are seen as trustworthy, employees will be confident that they and the company are being guided toward success.
In the Autodesk-FMI survey, companies with the highest levels of trust reported lower turnover rates, fewer missed schedules, more repeat business, and higher levels of success. That sounds like a good return on investment for building trust.