The Role of Trust

| August 26, 2009

In last week’s post, I discussed the relative importance of management system standards versus company culture, particularly the presence of trust or distrust, on OH&S performance.  This discussion was based on the paper entitled The Limits of Management Based Regulation by Neil Gunningham and Darren Sinclair.
In this paper, the authors conclude – “A lack of organizational trust was certainly one of the most important problems, for without trust, our evidence shows the effectiveness of management based regulation may be severely and sometimes fatally compromised.”

There are a lot of books – and consultants – offering advice on improving safety culture.  “Safety culture” even has its own Wikipedia entry.  Many of these resources do not; however, spend much time discussing trust.

If trust is critical to OH&S performance, what is it and how do you get it?

Although I usually refer to for my definitions, in this case I prefer the definition Steven Covey gives in his book – The Speed of Trust.  He defines trust as confidence and he defines distrust as suspicion.  He then goes on to discuss why trust is important – to individuals and society – and how to develop personal trustworthiness as well as trust in relationships and organizations.

To order this book from Amazon – click here The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

In his chapter on organizational trust, Steven Covey sets out four questions to ask to determine whether your organization has a high-trust environment.

  • Does your organization have integrity – a culture of honesty and ethical behavior?
  • Does your organization have good intent – a culture of caring?
  • Does your organization have the right people to deliver value?
  • Does your organization deliver on its promises?

Want to improve your OH&S performance?

Consider how you can use your OH&S management system to build or support trust rather than tear it down.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)


Category: OHSMS Implementation

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