Organizational Trust and Alignment - Mirror Mirror - Team Alignment

Business during the holidays froze for a month, while outside it was a mid-summer heatwave. I took the time to read Stephen MR Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust . It inspired me to share, more so on organizational trust. So here is a summary of what he says…

“…Credibility builds trust in 4 areas, namely- integrity and intent (character), capability and results (competence). These are needed to establish trust on a working level. For example, you can trust your friend but wouldn’t to go to them to get your teeth fixed unless they were a qualified dentist. 

Building trust starts with yourself- and includes being trustworthy through behaviours such as: talk straight, demonstrate respect, clarify expectations, show loyalty, and confront reality. 

At the second level, through the reciprocation of these behaviours, trust can then be created between people. 

And at a third level, we have organizational trust, which centres around the ‘principle of alignment’. Here, the organization needs to show that its systems and processes are congruent with its trustworthy behaviours. For example, the way new employees are onboarded, rewarded, promoted, how customers are dealt with, and how communications are handled. All these need to congruent with behaviours in the organization – as led by its leaders – in order to earn the reciprocation that creates trust as an outcome.”

In addition, Covey is very clear about the impact of trust in an organization:

“Just as the tax created by low trust is real, measurable, and extremely high, so the dividends of high trust are also real, quantifiable, and incredibly high.”

To illustrate, the tables below say it all…

What does it look like in an organization when there is no trust?
Organization level
Sabotage, grievances, lawsuits
Punishing systems and hierarchy
Unhappy employees and stakeholders
Time wasted defending positions and decisions
Bureaucracy, redundancy and misalignment in systems and structures
Hidden agendas
Slow approvals / lack of overall agility


Interpersonal level
Hostile behaviours and confrontations
Labelling of others as enemies or allies
Communications coloured by fear, uncertainty, doubt and worry
Real issues not surfaced or dealt with effectively
Energy draining, joyless interactions
Evidence-gathering of other party’s weaknesses and mistakes
Guarded / grudging dispensing of information
Regular misunderstandings
What does it look like in an organization when there is trust?
Organization level
Aligned systems and structures
Good communication
A focus on work and results
Positive partnership relationships
Helpful systems and structures
Strong creativity and innovation
Engagement, confidence, loyalty
Healthy workplace


Interpersonal level
Positive energy
Inspiring work characterised by purpose, creativity and excitement
Open, transparent relationships
Cooperative, close, vibrant relationships
Cordial, healthy communications
Focus on smooth and efficient collaboration
Mutual tolerance and acceptance
Mistakes seen as learning opportunities


Certainly, here at Mirror Mirror, we see that cognitive and behavioural alignment – which requires openness, respect and inclusivity – is the foundation of trust.