Monday, 20 july 2020 | Redacción CEU
It is really difficult to trust people who are not clear about what they are doing. It is even more difficult to trust them when they seem not to care about what is happening to other people. Talking about abstract and intangible concepts like trust within the business world may seem like a minor issue. However, thinking like this might lead us to making serious mistakes. What really makes a company work is the people who make it up. Regardless of how big or small the staff is, these individuals are the ones who add value to the company. Therefore, relationships in firms should not be treated as a trivial matter, especially when we discuss leadership.
Leadership without trust is like shooting a movie without a script: you know you have to follow the director’s indications, but you have nothing to build on in order to do it. In the history of cinema, the absence of a script has not always led to failure (experimental proposals, improvised endings, etc.), but it may put the survival of the project at risk. In the business world, exactly the same thing happens. While it is true that a company might survive for a certain time with an untrustworthy leadership, it is also true that mistrust will lead to the questioning of a leader over time.
Trust is an important issue in the corporate world, but it becomes of paramount importance in turbulent times like the ones we have gone through recently. In difficult situations the need for trustworthy, strong and empathetic relationships is evident: Who would want to follow the guidelines of a ship captain who, at the first setback, decides to get on a boat and abandon the crew to their fate?
Trust in the new work paradigm
The COVID-19 crisis has had a strong impact on the world of work, accelerating trends such as flexible work, leadership in environments of uncertainty and the commitment to workers’ upskilling. Aware of this new reality, the Adecco Group carried out a report in which it tried to capture the new perceptions about work in eight countries in which it operates (USA, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan).
Some of the conclusions of this study are closely related to the concept of trust within companies. According to this report, employers have been positively appraised during the lockdown. In Spain, 88% of the respondents consider that their managers met or exceeded their expectations in this period. According to this study, respondents trust companies more than other agents to get them back on their feet again. In fact, 81% identify their company as the most responsible for guaranteeing a better world at work after the pandemic, ahead of governments or individuals themselves.
This study also analyzes the perceptions of respondents before and after the arrival of the pandemic. In general, the people interviewed consider that companies are now more reliable when it comes to going back to “normal”, and 61% of workers claim they trust their companies to support them again in the event of the recurrence of crises. The data seems to indicate that companies have put extra effort into building confidence during this period of uncertainty.
Regarding leadership, emotional intelligence was already considered by these respondents as a key requirement before the spread of COVID-19. Nevertheless, in this new work context, the most valued leadership skills are empathy, a new focus on well-being, the creation of a culture world and trust. In addition, the global data shows that 74% of employees want their bosses to show a leadership style focused on empathy and a supportive attitude. This figure is even two percentage points higher in Spain.
Adecco's study is not the only report that highlights the importance of trust within the world of work in difficult times. Another example is the study conducted by Eurofirms Group, which indicates that the most important lesson companies have learnt during this period has been to place greater importance to communication, working as teams and building trust.