‘Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.’

Stephen Covey 

‘Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.’

Arthur Ashe

‘Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.’

Warren Bennis

The above quotes illustrate how indefinable trust is, meaning different things to different people. On an individual basis, we all inherently know what trust is and who we trust and who we don’t, but it is difficult/impossible to define. It is also very pertinent to any company’s business relationships, for instance with its key stakeholders, such as; Employees, Customers or Suppliers. How many of the above quotes are relevant to business. In a commercial relationship, this may be between individuals, teams, companies or all three. Trust is a key driver in any relationship and to be successful, trust must work both ways. We would say that the above quotes are all very relevant to business.

Whilst you could say that in a commercial sense trust itself is intangible, the component parts that can contribute towards trust with any particular stakeholder group are often more tangible and are therefore measurable. For instance, some of the measurable components  include;

  • Communication
  • Integrity
  • Competence
  • Respect
  • Inclusion
  • Listening
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Delivering on commitments

Whether you are thinking about Employee Engagement, Customer Loyalty or Supplier Engagement,  both our research and experience suggests that the higher the level of trust that exists between stakeholders, the more successful the relationship, with clear commercial benefits. For instance, the current COVID crisis has tested relationships and commitment as never before. One outcome has been a re-assessment of these relationship, based on performance/commitment during the crisis. Many relationships have developed and matured based on the impact and outcomes jointly achieved during the crisis. Others have been found wanting, and are being re-assessed, with the subsequent consequences.

Measuring Trust

Given the importance of trust in driving  successful relationships and business performance, it’s logical that companies should measure trust within their stakeholder relationships. This could be in the form of Employee Engagement Studies, Voice of the Customer Studies or Voice of the Supplier studies. Measuring trust as a component part of these studies is becoming more and more valid. Measuring trust and its component parts as a stand-alone study is also a growing trend. We at FOTP Research are working with clients to identify the component parts of trust within a particular stakeholder group or industry, then developing and deploying feedback programmes. The insights gathered enable clients to have a quantitative measure of trust and also its component parts, from which to develop and implement action plans.  On an annual basis, these can be re-measured to be able to assess progress against the action plan.

Here at FOTP Research, we are experts in working with clients to design, develop, deploy and deliver feedback/insights from key stakeholder groups. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can measure Trust in your stakeholder relationships.