Gordon Sutherland is the CEO of Tunstall Healthcare, a UK-based company that is a leading global provider of telecare/telehealth software solutions. This technology supports people who want ‘stay at home’ independence secure in the knowledge that help is on hand at the touch of button.
In this interview, Gordon highlights the critical importance of organisational trust, how it underpins the company values and helps him, and the senior management team, navigate through a challenging period of change.
On measuring trust:
‘Given the underlying importance of trust, it’s perhaps a bit of a contradiction that as leaders we don’t actually use the word as much as we should do; instead we use words such as accountability or integrity and that is something we will address going forward. We’re probably like most other organisations in not having a quantifiable method of scoring our trust factor. Whilst it would be interesting to learn more about how we could do his in our organisation, each and every one of us instinctively knows when we personally trust someone.’
On building a high trust culture:
‘For me the methodology of building trust within an organisation is the same as in life; for example in your lifelong relationships, your friendships, and with your customers or business colleagues. It’s about being honest, delivering on your commitments to people and being consistent in your approach to decision-making – doing what you said you were going to do time after time and being predictable about how you are going to behave when confronted with similar situations. You demonstrate willingness to listen, courage to take the decision and to not flinch from being open and respectful when giving feedback.’
On the challenges of building trust:
‘For five years the company has been faced with continued challenges to maintain its position in the market-place and this has led to ongoing change across the organisation. During this time there has been an absence of consistency in the direction of change which has had the effect of creating mistrust. After a lot of hard work I believe our trust levels are recovering and we are gradually working our way back to where we were before the changes, but it is a slow process. We still have pockets of mistrust, and we still have a long way to go, but we are getting there.’
The Nine Habits of Trust:
Tunstall Healthcare is making progress on a number of the nine habits, most notably being consistent, coaching and being kind in an accountable and fair way. At this stage, it might be useful for the company to consider how its current survey of employee satisfaction and engagement could be supported by the Trusted Executive organisational trust survey. This would help Tunstall Healthcare continue to build a culture of trust in the company, and it would give an objective, quantifiable method of scoring the trust factor that Gordon mentions in the interview.
Our thanks to Gordon for his time and for allowing us to share his insights from the interview.
For more information on the Trusted Executive Foundation please refer to this short introductory video. The organisational trust survey mentioned in the interview is available from the Foundation. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.