Is there truly a trust crisis or is it all just rhetoric? - podcast 61

Date: 06 December 2011
Duration: 24:21
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In this podcast we will be examining trust in the workplace and in leadership generally:  whether it has diminished and if so, how can it be rebuilt?

Philippa Lamb talks to Vanessa Robinson, CIPD Head of HR Practice, Veronica Hope-Hailey - Associate Dean, MBA Programmes & Professor of Strategic Human Resource Management and Jane Beine, Head of Partner Development at John Lewis.

Our latest CIPD quarterly survey finds that levels of trust have dropped so much over the last three years that we are facing a trust crisis. It is not only trust in senior managers, but in the press, politicians and financial services sector.

Vanessa Robinson, CIPD's Head of HR Practice Development, explains that the cumulative findings of the survey were so disturbing that the CIPD decided to do a major piece of research, looking at a wide range of organisations, to find out why this was so and what could be done about it. The research is in its final stages and will appear early next year.

Cass Business School’s Professor of HRM and change, Veronica Hope-Hailey has been leading the research and interestingly, says that trust in senior management was waning even before the crisis. Listen to find out why.

Veronica mentions that there is one outstanding concept that needs re-thinking in the light of the economic shift and globalisation and much of the burden of getting this right will fall on HR. She  says that while senior managers are not parents, the way issues are handled can make all the difference.

Philippa talked with some of the people involved in the case studies about the techniques and practices they have used to help engender a more trusting working relationship. First she spoke with Kirit Patel, CEO of Day Lewis Pharmacy which employs over 1300 staff. Kirit learned a great deal from the recession of the 80s and those lessons have served him well this time too. Listen and see if you could generate the same practices in your organisation.

At John Lewis, their Partnership model has served them well, but they have changed their attitude to Partners. Jane Beine explains that there has been re-structuring but even so it has caused less unease due to the shift in culture from the top.

Norton Rose is a large, global, legal practice. Carolann Edwards, Director of Learning and Organisational Development, has used rather different remedies to create cohesion and trust between employees from very diverse cultures, but essentially, these remedies have had the same aims as those from Day Lewis and John Lewis and won the day.... and several prestigious prizes too.

Philippa wonders if you can ever have too much trust, undermining performance and the competitive spirit. It seems you can and some infamous and spine-chilling examples are quoted.

Veronica thinks the resurgence of the psychological contract in a more realistic form will be necessary if we are to claim any stake in the global economy, which leads to a busy and exciting year for 2012. 

Links to further related information

CIPD Employee Outlook survey which regularly measures levels of trust appears on our research pages.

Our Next Generation research, looks at the changing nature of HR and some of the best and emergent next practice work that currently engages HR functions.  From this link you can also go to our Shaping the future research.

Look out for the research findings on trust which will appear early in the new year on our research pages.

Next time, a look forward to the year ahead with the CIPD’s Chief Economic Adviser, Dr John Philpott, and the HR director overseeing the greatest mobilisation of workers since the Second World War, that’s Jean Tomlin, HR Director for the London 2012 Olympics who’s now nearing the dramatic end of her five years at the helm of the greatest show on earth. Join us then.