The pandemic that afflicts humanity is unleashing two monumental crises: Health, which to date has been the cause of almost 900,000 deaths worldwide, with more than 26 million cases; and the economic one, which has meant the loss of more than 400 thousand jobs so far. Beyond the uncertain end of this tragedy, the great challenge that human beings will face is to preserve the status quo in a seriously affected society.
The restoration of daily activities, both work and educational and social, entails not only important challenges in the preservation of health and economically, but also in communication.
An element that has been lost in all areas, to a greater or lesser extent, is trust. The recovery of a normality is a priority to get back on track, but the first step to transition from a new reality to a new normal, a process in which professionals from different specialties must be involved, requires repairing the trust that has been lost.
Psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and jurists are some of the specialists who will be involved in the formation of a new society and with it a new normal based on the conditions that the post-pandemic will impose. But the professionals who will have to work hard to act as catalysts in this process of rebuilding trust are the communicators.
Trust is an inherent concept in the day-to-day life of human beings, in our relationships, actions or in the expectations that we generate from others. This also applies to institutions, companies or organizations: they must keep their promises and be responsible to their environment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a high impact on our society and has increased uncertainty in all areas, which is why it is necessary to rebuild the lost trust. As leaders try to safely guide their organizations and stakeholders through this crisis, certainty will be more critical than ever. To rebuild this trust between stakeholders and better position companies for the long term, leaders must focus on four dimensions: physical, emotional, financial and digital.
Recent research shows that the presence of trust brings positive results. This means that communities that have this highly developed sentiment are better prepared for a crisis and have stronger economic growth, greater innovation, more stability and, ultimately, better results.
In times of crisis, such as a pandemic, it is critical to tap into the trusted source to disseminate critical information, maintain peace of mind, and contain disease. It is now more important than ever to value certainty and security and infuse it into everything we do as individuals and as business leaders. In this sense, being proactive in generating trust during a time of crisis can be a differential factor for a company or institution leader.
In a work published on its website, the consulting firm Deloitte refers to what it calls « the four dimensions of trust » that organizational leaders and communicators must manage: physical, emotional, financial and digital.
Physical trust: is it safe to meet in shared places?
Emotional trust: are the needs of stakeholders being valued?
Financial confidence: are the economic and financial concerns of stakeholders being addressed?
Digital trust: is stakeholder data safe?
The leaders who head companies and institutions interact with different stakeholders, each with different concerns: customers, communities, employees, suppliers or shareholders. In the trust-building journey that leaders have undertaken since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, they must be empathetic with each of their stakeholders, considering their needs in each of the four dimensions of trust. For this, it is essential to develop strategies in each of these spheres and communicate them promptly and honestly.
The heads of organizations cannot control the pandemic or other external forces beyond their sphere of influence. Therefore, they must focus on the areas that they can master – such as the quality of products and services, treating their employees well, a commitment to behave ethically and transparently, and digital competence – and infuse their actions in those areas a purpose and integrity.
Being trustworthy involves addressing the needs and concerns of stakeholders in each of the four dimensions of trust in two ways: competently and intentionally. Competition refers to the need to « get it right. » Intent refers to the meaning behind the actions of a business leader: taking decisive action with empathy, transparency, and true care for the difficulties faced by stakeholders. Resilient leaders must be prepared to adapt, in order to better serve their stakeholders and prepare their organizations to move towards a « new normal. » The balance of trust is key to being successful in this challenge, which will allow to maintain business continuity and prevail after the crisis.
Due to the great importance of the recovery of trust for the construction of a new normality, the Association of Professionals in Public Relations, PRO-RP, convened its annual RADICAL congress for September 9, which this time will be virtual and the subject that he will address will be precisely « Restoring trust », as the great challenge of public relations and organizational communicators.
In this regard, the great Peter Drucker said that “you cannot prevent a great catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is willing to fight, with high morale, that knows how to behave, that trusts itself, where people trust each other. … Because without trust, they won’t fight ”.