The problem with talking about the importance of trust in the workplace (and in our personal relationships as well) is the often and typical reaction that goes something like “Of course we recognise that trust is important.”

And of course, most people do recognise that trust is important. The question however that with all the right intention comfortably disturbs many of my clients is this

“How is the development, maintenance and measurement of trust in your organisation reflected in your strategic and operational plans?”

Indulge me for a moment with a brief background to why the topic of Intentional Trust has become etched in my DNA, and why it is imperative for every person in every level in every organisation to take personal responsibility and be accountable for the impact of intentional trust on workplace prosperity.

Organisations Don’t Behave – People Do!

The first business degree I completed was in the early nineties and was in Human Resource Development where my major was in the psychology of adult learning and organisational behaviour. I quickly realised that organisations didn’t ‘behave’ – people did!

When I continued studying and completed my MBA in the mid-nineties, I was quite shocked that the program did not include ethics as part of the curriculum. My career had predominantly been in Learning & Development and Human Resources as a middle manager in a state financial institution. I had always been interested in learning and development, organisational behaviour, organisational development and what was at the time, an emerging field called corporate culture.

To fill the ethics gap in what I believed was a necessary part of any management education, I completed a Master Degree in Professional Ethics. I was again surprised to discover that in my class of around 20 post-grad students, I was the only representative from the corporate world – the others were mainly from government or government sponsored programs.

The Emergence of Codes of Ethics

Why take you through that trek in my past? Because as I completed my Master of Professional Ethics in late 2001, very few organisations had proactively established codes of ethics or conduct – some had been encouraged or because of legal compliance, required to introduce and implement codes of ethics or codes of conduct, but mostly in my research and experience, it wasn’t readily embraced, nor was it seen to be that important by the majority of business leaders.

Today, most companies and associations have developed codes of conduct or codes of ethics because, to paraphrase what I learned from Associate Professor Stephen Cohen (one of my lecturers in the Master of Professional Ethics degree) “Building ethical business practice is good for business.”

The research detailing the benefits of increasing trust in our personal and work life is compelling, and I’m convinced that now is the time for Trust to become a focus of every Board, executive management team, and for every business owner and employee to recognise the importance of trust – not just understanding its importance, but to embrace behaviours that demonstrate intentional trust building.

The Intentionomics Trust Model is an individual, team and organisational model that provides a blueprint on how to introduce and maintain intentional trust.

Step 1: Applying the Intentionomics Trust Model starts with clearly identifying and articulating your intentions for each key stakeholder. Your intention is the motivation upon which your promises, actions, results and trust all stand. I refer to it as your bigger WHY – what you genuinely want for your stakeholders (not just what you want for yourself).

Step 2: Once you’re clear on your intentions for each stakeholder, you can then define your intentional promises. Without being clear of your intentions, you can create unintentional expectations and promises that are difficult to deliver on.

Step 3: With clear intentions for each stakeholder, and well defined intentional promises, then you’re able to more clearly define the intentional actions you will undertake to deliver on your promises. The key here is management and employees become more energised and engaged in their actions because they are more clearly aligned with promises that are based on intentions to create value for others.

Step 4: Individual accountability for results is achieved. This also means when unintentional results are produced, for whatever reason, individuals hold themselves accountable for discovering ways to rectify the unintentional results.

These three pillars of trust, intentional promises, intentional actions and intentional results provide clarity and measures for the what, when, where and how of organisational deliverables.

Step 5: When intentional results are delivered, Trust is achieved and maintained. This is about the ‘WHO you are’ in organisations… it’s about focusing on individual and collective character.

The Intentionomics Trust Model has been applied by executive Boards as a refreshing way to look at their Strategic Intent and Strategic Direction, through to coaching individual business owners and their teams to focus on intentional trust.

The results from applying the Intentionomics Trust Model echo a wide range of academic and field research that validates when trust increases, revenue increases, productivity increases, employee engagement increases and the speed of doing business effectively increases. At the same time, costs decrease, errors decrease, blame decreases and stress decreases.

While formal, legal or compliance driven requirements for a Code of Trust is not what I’m advocating here, by applying the Intentionomics Trust Model, at individual, team, divisional and organisational levels, what you end up with is, for want of a better description, a Code of Trust – it outlines your intentions for stakeholders, the promises you will make, the actions you will take and the results you intend to achieve and that you will hold yourself accountable for as a person, team, division or organisation of trust.

And a final note from me… If this post on Trust resonates with you, please forward it on to your HR Director, Divisional Manager or CEO – it’s a message worth sharing.