Trust is a topic that could be studied almost as broadly as humanity. Perhaps because the two can be very organically intertwined. Because of the breadth of the matter, this blog will limit its reflection to two points: authenticity and comprehensibility.
The surprise of the pandemic in almost all industries was the sudden shift from despair to a demand landslide. It could be argued that for many companies, luck overtook strategy and opening the doors was enough to break records. The world almost ran out of bicycles, homes sold above asking prices, grocery stores broke record after record and nearly all online stores, whatever they sold, made incredible growth strides.
Organisations also took giant digital leaps, and even bigger leaps of trust, by moving overnight from tracking working hours and location to managing performance. The message from workplaces was that trust has been strengthened. We felt that people trusted us and our abilities.
In many workplaces, there was also a significant increase in management communication. Weekly reviews and management video greetings were introduced. And how: we heard from our clients how management was praised above all for how they communicated genuinely and understandably. We were in a situation where no one knew what was going on, and behind the masks, we revealed something human. This humanity made many of us instantly compelling communicators.
Our hypothesis was that the human aspects of communication increase people’s commitment to their organisations.
And yet we are now in a situation of exceptionally high employee turnover. How did we get here? A plausible alternative is, of course, that our hypothesis about the leap of trust is wrong. But maybe not.
One possibility is that the sudden success caused management hubris, i.e. an exaggerated self-confidence in their own excellence as the reason for the success. From a communication perspective, hubris often leads to an erosion of trust. It leads to a distancing in behaviour and language, a loss of interaction and listening, and the use of complex business jargon. It leads to behaviour that erodes trust quickly and effectively.
Was there a trust hangover at the organisational level when we first got used to enthusiastic and trust-building communication, and then suddenly, that addictive and culture-building ingredient was forgotten? Is this possibly one of the reasons behind the wave of resignations? If so, there are ways to fix it quickly for every manager through daily meaningful, clear and understandable communication.