Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Let Trust Hang in the Balance: Follow These 5 Principles

This post is by my friend, Larry Checco of Checco Communications.
This photo is from EssG's photostream on Flickr.

A brand screams out TRUST ME!  A good brand quietly-and always-fulfills that pledge.

Unfortunately, the public's trust of institutions and organizations of all kinds-especially with respect to some of our most venerated for-profit, nonprofit, government and dare I say religious institutions-is at an all-time low.

Here are five things can you do to help ensure that trust is part of your organization's core values:

Recruit and hire well, especially your leaders.

How often have you heard, "We need to recruit board members of affluence and influence?" Recent history has affirmed that if the portfolios of your leaders don't include wisdom and integrity, their affluence and influence may come back to bite you in the butt. 
Educate what's at risk.
Ethical lapses are easy to make, especially when the organization's culture gives a wink and a nod to unethical behavior.

Countless organizations have suffered greatly because they failed to understand the risks of their questionable or unethical behavior. We'll refrain from mentioning names here, but if you just glance at the news these days you know who they are.

Be transparent with your finances.

Be sure that you can account to your funders for how your organization spent their money; better yet, how it made a difference in helping you achieve your mission. And poor bookkeeping is no excuse. Hire a certified accountant, if necessary. To learn more about the state of transparency in nonprofits, see this report from Guidestar

Speak truth to power.
Create an organizational culture in which employees feel free to speak truthfully to management.  Pent-up worker frustration often becomes cancerous and ugly, not to mention harmful to the organization's brand.

Legal is not the litmus test.

There's a difference between what's legal and what's ethical. If you're sitting around a conference table trying to split hairs between the two, don't go to your legal department for a resolution to your dilemma. It's being paid to find you a loophole. Rather ask yourself, "What would my mother think if this decision I'm about to make finds itself on the front page of the local newspaper or on the 6 o'clock news?"

Want to hear more from Larry?  Register today for "Don't Be Fooled: The Pitfalls, Myths and Assumptions that Can Fool Executive Communicators a brown bag luncheon hosted by Washington Women in Public Relations on Thursday, April 1 from 12:00 - 2:00 pm.


Mazarine said...

Larry, thanks for this list.

Trust is at a premium now, when so many of our institutions have let us down.

Aside from recruiting and hiring well, I would add that make it an HR rule that no leader will be paid more than 10x the salary of the lowest paid worker.

Bill Moyers recently interviewed Kate Pickett from the University of York, about how inequality holds us back as a society the world over, and wages are at the bottom of it. The more unequal a society's wages are, the less likely people are to TRUST each other.

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