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A few painful numbers: according to a survey performed by BVA on behalf of BPI Consulting*, only 22 percent of employees have a very good opinion of their superior and only 18 percent have a favorable view of executives. Trust is in danger and it is high time to act, on both strategic and operational levels!

In a society based on information and knowledge, the economy can no longer be reduced to the formula Capital x Work = Performance. The new formula is Capital x Work x Trust = Collective Performance.

At the Strategic Level
If you really want your organization to reestablish trust and efficiency, you almost certainly need to question processes, habits, entrenched interests, etc. Hence, the necessary first step for leaders, before revising everything from the ground up, is a diagnosis of organizational practices. Once the stumbling blocks have been identified, the five levers of organizational trust can be activated: reinforcing company coherence; promoting autonomy and cooperation; cultivating diversity; opening up to external influences; and managing contradictions.

At the Operational Level
Now that the limits of command & control have become apparent, it is clear that what engages a team and pushes them to excel is their trust in managers (and vice versa). An important challenge for middle managers is thus to maintain the day-to-day trust of each employee:

  1. Listening vs. hearing: make your listening credible by drawing appropriate conclusions from what your team members say.
  2. Fairness vs. equality: set aside categorical equality and move toward fairness, while doing your best to understand team members’ points of view regarding their own contributions.
  3. Developing vs. educating: take part in your team members’ development to help advance their autonomy. Show that you trust them in order to encourage them to be creative.


* Survey performed in January 2011 in 11 countries: Germany, Belgium, Canada, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, and the United States.

Read our dossier
Inspire Trust and Trust Others

Business Digest no. 218, July-August 2011.

Based on La confiance en pratique [Trust Manual] by Hervé Sérieyx and Jean-Luc Fallou, (Maxima 2010) and the interviews with Fabrice Remesy, Head of Toulouse Paint Center, Airbus, and with Carsten Jensen, managing director, Valtech Danemark, June 2011.