The ROI of building trust. What level of confidence do you have in your teams? And with your colleagues? And with your reporting lines? Maximum or minimum? You have 5 actions on your hand for building trust.

Do you believe that in your company you can work in an environment of trust? If so, congratulations! It is one of the fundamental issues that are of great concern to the CEOs of Organizations:  how to build trust in their teams. It is the key to attracting and retaining talent, to innovating, to achieving positive results, among many other things. If you believe that there is room for improvement, I invite you to think about the keys to achieving a good level of trust, and to seeing how much money and time you can save.

Why are CEOs so concerned about building trust in their organizations?

According to the  Conference Board,

in a survey done to CEOs about the 2017 challenges, they indicate that the diversity of challenges is being addressed by focusing on talent, culture and fiscal discipline. And they are using these strategies in 6 core issues:

  • Human Capital
  • Innovation and digitalization
  • Sustainability
  • Regulation and risk management
  • Operational excellence
  • Customer relations, corporate branding and reputation

All of them require trust. And trust in a broad sense: between the different components of the organization, and beyond the organization itself: customers, suppliers, employees, community, … and all related actors.

The meaning of “trust me”

When we say to a customer “trust me,” what are we really saying?

We are telling the customers that we understand their need, and that we can give them an effective solution. Moreover, if they have problems, we diligently seek their resolution and, ultimately, we provide a robust solution and a solid and comprehensive customer service. And this will allow the customer to feel confident that our product and / or service is of good quality, and that, in addition, the price which they pay for it is correct. We establish a relationship of trust. We have a commitment to our client. And we accomplish it.

If we have done well, our client will see a very positive ROI in the investment they have made.

And how does the customer look at this ROI? … Very easy: Is it useful? Does it work? Does it meet needs? Profit obtained from the investment (what they have achieved) divided by investment made! Quick calculation. Quick perception.

What do we do with our clients? We build credibility and reliability. We show them our commitment. And we accomplish it.

What is happening inside the company?

If we apply this so clearly to our customers, why do we find it so difficult within the company?

When we transfer this same concept to the employees, we are already changing our perception and actions.

Take, for example, what we do when a new employee joins our organization:

  • We need to integrate him/her into the culture of the company, to get to know it, to get trained in processes or work systems, that is to say: to become familiar with the new environment, to gain confidence in their own position and from there drive, depending on their role, what they need or can propel.
  • How long can it take to be “100%” productive? Depending on the role, between 1 week, 1 month, 3 months … let’s take the known margin of 100 days. Therefore, from 3 months onwards, the person already “contributes”, based on what is expected. We have made an agreement, he/she has got involved, has got to know the company and contributes: ROI of trust achieved! …But is that how it goes?

Let us think about, when a person joins the company, what we really do?

  • Do we give them the time that we have promised them they will have for integrating and / or being trained?
  • Do we make it easier for them to get to know and familiarize themselves with the business, which is the key to developing their role, with the customer care that we want in our company?
  • Do we thank them for the fresh air that they bring to the organization, the same that we liked in the interview, and the reason for why we decided to incorporate that candidate, for example?
  • Do we allow them to get to know their usual teams / collaborators?
  • Do we accept the comments they may make about what suits them the most and what the least? Are we open to new contributions?
  • Do we give them real feedback and support?
  • ….

Depending on the answers to these questions, initial credibility and reliability can be compromised in the early days. And therefore, start a relationship of “employee-company”, “leader-employee”, where trust, instead of growing, wanes in the early days. If we miss our commitment as a company / leader, what do we expect in return? … And how much does it take to regain trust!

Who can we measure the ROI of building trust?

ROI of trust = what is achieved / time and money in getting there

“What is achieved” depends directly on the mutual trust “employee-company”, “employee-leader”, which in turn generates commitment on the part of both, and that, we know, is necessary for initiatives to be driven and projects to be implemented. It is the same as what our customers ask us for!!

When there is trust in a team, a strong commitment is generated, and adversities are overcome, performance is improved, solutions are found, positioning is discussed from the respect and the will to achieve the best. In short: a lot of progress is made. The ROI is very large, and multiplies the effect throughout the team.

When there is little trust, the ROI is dwindling, and what is worse, we may make visible this lack of internal confidence to our clients, because we take a long time to make things happen and this, inexorably, reverts to our way of serving our customers, providing our products and our services.

Therefore, the ROI of trust impacts directly on our company’s EBITDA.

The cost of lack of confidence, do you dare to quantify it?

We all know that trust means a lot of effort to build, and that it can be lost in a second. The cost of lack of confidence, can be clearly very high, so much so, that it may mean not being in the market tomorrow.

This is not new, it is known. And yet, it remains a concern for CEOs as we have seen.

We now add the need for working with virtual teams, where the fact of not being physically present generates additional limitations, which must be overcome by socializing, communicating, and being present in another way.

And we also add the characteristics of the Millennial talent, which, among other things, needs more frequent recognition, validating trust almost constantly, not understanding hierarchies, and that commitment comes through the attractiveness of the project and the work environment.

What is the cost now of lack of confidence?

In addition to not operating properly in the company, it may mean not attracting the necessary talent and, therefore, not being in the market tomorrow.

This is the true impact of ROI of low confidence. No need to quantify. It’s just not there.

And how do you build trust in teams?

When creating a relationship of trust between people, there is responsibility on both parts to maintain that relationship of trust. And for me that’s the key.

With our customers it is the contract, the payment, the service, what we contribute again, how we help them to achieve their challenges, how we solve  crisis situations, quality of care, product, etc., etc. … all of this forms the relationship of trust, and the responsibility of each one is clear.

With people, companies can be many things, but all of them refer to the understanding of the expectations one has about that relationship, what is expected from each other, what has each one committed to, and what is supported, on the part of both, for this relationship to work. There is usually an important component of generosity, understood in a positive way.

And what can break trust? It is based on two main aspects:

  • Systematic abuse by one of the parties. And abuse can also be of oneself in the exercise of their role, which does not allow the other to develop.
  • The lack of systematic compliance with what each party is supposed to do and how to contribute to that relationship.

How to maintain and nurture trust?

Very simply, I call it the hand of trust:


  • Build credibility in your action
  • Show your commitment
  • Clarify expectations from the relationship
  • Communicate and listen, out of respect
  • Give thanks and value what is needed, sincerely

And you? What ROI of trust do you have in your organization? What ROI of confidence do you generate as the leader of your team?

I encourage you to always use “the hand of trust” in the way of doing things! You will see the ROI of building trust in your organization.