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Trusted human resources leadership

Can you trust your HR Department? Trust is one of the most valuable assets in any organization and the level of trust within an organization is a key factor in long-term organizational success.

As an HR leader in your organization there are three key areas that you can work on to help foster trust within your organization.

Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau define the three categories of trust in their leadership book, “The Trusted Leader” as:

  1. Strategic trust
  2. Organizational trust and
  3. Personal trust

My contribution is to show how Human Resources professionals can build trust in each of these areas.

1. Strategic trust

HR professionals are more personally credible when they are credible activists who build relationships of trust with business leaders and who take positions about how business can be more successful.” David Ulrich on the Future of Human Resources

Strategic trust means that people trust that the organization is doing the right things to be successful in their chosen marketplace. One of the roles of HR is support for internal communications to front-line staff. This means conveying clearly and consistently the company direction, its mission, vision and values, and how everyone in the organization can work as team to get there. At the HR business partner level, building trust depends on learning how to support the business strategies at all levels to internal and external stakeholders with all your HR processes.

2. Organizational trust

Accurate, fair and consistent human resources policies are the backbone of organizational trust. People need to trust that the correct processes and decisions are followed. HR professionals can foster trust in the system of the organization through things such as compensation policies, return to work policies, absence management, performance appraisals, vacation policies and more.

This type of trust is built on HR expertise, problem-solving abilities, HRIS skills, reliability, consistency, accuracy and confidentiality for front-line staff. In HR relations with business department leaders, accurate HR data management and meaningful HR reporting will help build organizational trust. Organizational trust is built on actions not feelings.

3. Personal trust

Personal trust is what most people think of first when they think of trusted leaders. It is fostered through relationships and is built on care, honesty, reliability, integrity, consistency and other-centered leadership. HR can foster personal  trust through personal recognition and support of employee life and work events, engaging in meaningful work conversations and demonstrating responsiveness to employee questions and suggestions.  It means supporting the development of people, encouraging risk/failure, hiring people that may be smarter than you or your co-workers and giving away control. Another way that HR can foster personal trust is through display of a passionate, personal concern regarding how business decisions impact people. Building personal trust as an HR professional may or may not mean sharing aspects of your private personal life, but it does rely on being personal about your business relationships and work projects.

Are you building trust in your organization?

Trusted leadership comes in all shapes and sizes – it is more about empowering others to work than a certain type of personal leadership power. Human Resources professionals who recognize this are in a unique position to foster trust in each of the three categories of trust; strategic trust, organizational trust and personal trust.  Do people trust your HR department?

Working to increase trust within your organization is a worthwhile pursuit for the integrity and success of the organization, for people in the organization and for the people served by the organization. Take this quick test to see if you are a trusted leader:  Trusted Leader Test

It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together.” -H. L. Mencken

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Marcia Scheffler

Human Resources Generalist at Wawel Villa
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate is a Human Resources Generalist with M.A. working full-time as a Senior HR Officer. She is interested in the intersection of human resources theory and current best practices in HR. Read more
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