How Leaders Can Manage Change And Build A Culture Of Trust

Managing organizational change can be a daunting task.

Change is all around us. From consolidations and acquisitions to innovative new technology the way we do business and with whom is constantly in flux.

Organizations large and small, for profit and non-profit, are challenged with change. Managing organizational change can be a daunting task. The change process is often countered by resistance and conflict as employees fear the unknowns that it generally brings. Fear, confusion, anger, and frustration are just a few of the symptoms of change.

This is why you must be prepared to better manage common symptoms of change and most of all, tame the beast of change.


Trust culture

Trust is essential for organizational effectiveness. Employees who trust leadership and co-workers are more likely to feel job satisfaction and a sense of purpose. Trust increases employee productivity, collaboration, and engagement. Additionally, trust is a key factor in successful change management. It equips organizations with transparency and clarity which smooth the change process.

As a leader, an external or internal consultant, and change agent, it is vital to establish a culture of trust. Developing individual relationships which are based on trust is an art and a science. It is a delicate balance of soft and hard skills, tacit and explicit knowledge.

Building trust has three core components; credibility, sentiment, and coherence:


1. Credibility

Change agents must embody reliability and expertise in order to evoke trust. Credibility refers to the ability to act with integrity while personifying values and beliefs which complement the organizational culture. As a change agent you must maintain a strong code of ethics as well as a sincere attitude and competence.


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Credibility is tied to consistency and the ability to stay true to one’s self. You can develop credibility by proving that someone is right and fit for the task at hand based on experience and character. Character speaks volumes in the change management process. You develop credibility by bringing authenticity forward.


2. Sentiment

Change agents must embody emotion and values in order to evoke trust. Sentiment is directly related to your ability to connect to people on an emotional and personal level. As a change agent you should act with empathy and show passion for the overall goal and mission.


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Sentiment refers to having good intentions and genuine care for a situation and participating parties. Sentiment is about loyalty, compassion, and responsiveness. You can develop sentiment by sharing personal experiences and building common ground based on core values.


3. Coherence

Change agents must embody logic and reason in order to evoke trust. 
Coherence is the ability to provide, present, and process accurate empirical data which supports the case for change. Act professionally; have a clear rationale and strong business acumen.


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Coherence is about presenting facts and theories as well as historical data trends, projections, analogies and various opinions. Citing the facts is not enough, take it a step further and translate the data into terms that participants will understand and process. You can develop coherence by brushing up on statistics, regulations, and facts. Reviewing available information and mastering the material is key.


Building trust can alter the change management process for the better. Trust creates seamless transitions, a strong sense of team, and meaningful communication.

As leaders, consultants, and change agents, we must make the case for trust in addition to the case for change. By developing credibility, sentiment, and coherence, change agents mend the struggle that change can bring to an organization, therefore taming the beast of change.


This article has been edited.

Danielle Gal is a Master of Human Resources (MHR) candidate at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. 
In addition to being an MHR candidate, Danielle works at the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at the University of Central Florida, an organization dedicated to supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs by providing one-on-one consulting, training and market research. Danielle is passionate about human resources and assisting small business owners and entrepreneurs in their quest for success. Danielle’s areas of work include professional development, market research and international trade. Connect with @sbdcorlando on Twitter.


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