As leaders we are preprogrammed via our education and experience to constantly measure and manage activity results. Looks to make a new capital investment? Let’s perform a cost/benefit analysis. Need to assess the effectiveness of one of your business strategy? Calculate the ROI – Return on Investment. If your can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist! If it’s important to our business then we measure it. That’s our motto.

So, what about trust? It seems squishy and fun to talk about in theory, but how do you measure the impact of trust? There’s a question we ask often at LEC. That questions is, What’s the ROT – Return on Trust?

Almost every leader I speak with agrees that trust is important, but they also believe it’s just another one of those squishy or “soft” people issues like empowerment, engagement, or team morale. A great many think that trust “just happens” by some sort of magic or osmosis, and measuring it certainly isn’t in the cards. 

We believe that to be incorrect and negligent. As leaders we can measure trust on our teams and in our companies, but you have to know where to look for it and how it appears and exhibits itself within organizations.

“By behaving in ways that build trust with one, you build trust with many.”

~ Stephen M. R. Covey

First let’s take a look at what trust looks like within an organization.

  • The culture promotes and rewards honesty and ethical behavior 
  • People feel safe in sharing their intimate opinions and ideas, even if they aren’t popular or mainstream 
  • People love keeping their commitments and are consistent in their good behavior
  • Risk taking is not only encouraged but also rewarded
  • Team members have a shared sense of commitment and responsibility to their projects, teams and the organization
  • People are treated equitably, regardless of their position or rank
  • Productivity and creativity flourishes
  • Senior leadership communicates transparently and authentically
  • People are treated ethically
  • Mistakes are embraced as “learning opportunities” rather than mortal failures
  • People feel valued, capable, and are engaged in their work

How to build and nurture trust?

Very simply, it’s that hand of trust reaching out:

  • Listen and respectfully Communicate
  • Build credibility using your actions. 
  • Demonstrate your commitment on a consistent basis
  • Say thank you and show gratitude, sincerely value what is needed
  • Set clear expectations and parameters from the relationship

Don’t forget to start with yourself! Ask yourself, what ROT do you have in your organization? What ROT do you generate as the leader of your team?

How can we measure the ROT

Here is a little formula for calculating ROT.

ROT = 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. These are the same the things our customers ask us for!

When trust is present, a strong commitment is present, challenges and obstacles are overcome, performance goes up, solutions are discovered. To say it simply, progress is made. The ROI on ROT is very large, and multiplies the effectiveness throughout the team.

When there is little trust, the ROI diminishes. We could start making mistakes like making visible our lack of internal confidence to our clients. We may struggle meeting deadlines or getting things done at all, which could lead to front end delivery and real revenue issues. 

Therefore, the ROI of trust, or the ROT directly impacts every company’s EBITDA. So yes, ask the question “what the ROI on this” but also ask “what’s the ROT on this” as well.