This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

Summary
Research studies have recently suggested that trust in institutions, organizations, managers, colleagues, friends, and many other areas of work and life is declining worldwide. Among numerous factors, stringent worldwide competition, global governance, corporate greed, mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, managers’ moral hazard, and increased workplace diversity call on organizations’ ability to develop trusting relationships and partnerships. As many business models have “flattened” their structures within organizations, embracing a more team-based approach, managers’ ability to earn employees’ trust has become more significantly tied to their effectiveness. When employees trust their organizations, they tend to be more satisfied with their job, committed to the organization, and better able to learn and express innovativeness. They also manage through crises more effectively and perform better. On the other hand, when employees experience mistrust through a lack of information flow, the authors assert that those previously mentioned factors are likely to be negatively impacted. Consequently, the study evaluates whether communication practitioners can help managers build and maintain employees’ trust in their organizations by improving internal communication processes.

Method
To reflect on internal communication channels and culture, 289 employees with one year of working experience participated in an online survey. Approximately 30% of the sample were male, while 69% were female. The average age was between 30 and 40 years old, and most participants possessed a graduate degree.

The questionnaire included two scales. One of them measured eight dimensions of internal communication satisfaction(i.e., (1) satisfaction with feedback; (2) satisfaction with communication with immediate superior; (3) satisfaction with horizontal communication; (4) satisfaction with informal communication channels; (5) satisfaction with information about the organization; (6) satisfaction with communication climate; (7) satisfaction with the quality of communication media; and (8) satisfaction with communication in meetings.) The second scale measured five dimensions of organizational trust (i.e., (1) competency; (2) openness/honesty; (3) concern for employees; (4) reliability; and (5) identification).

Key Findings
1.     Employees’ internal communication satisfaction is positively related to all dimensions of organizational trust.
2.     “Satisfaction with communication climate” and “satisfaction with communication with immediate supervisor” – are the strongest predictors of organizational trust.
3.     The remaining six satisfaction dimensions (i.e., feedback; horizontal communication; informal communication channels; organizational information, communication media; and communication in meetings) are relevant for building and maintaining either specific facets of employees’ trust or an overall organizational trusting atmosphere.

Implications for Practice
This study shows the prominent role leadership communication plays in developing employees’ organizational trust and relationships. Fair and consistent manager actions, behaviors, and leadership style and motivating organizational structures and cultures may increase trust levels. When managers embrace their roles as listeners, employees’ satisfaction with internal communications will follow, leading to further improved organizational trust and outcomes.

Reference
Vokić, N. P., Bilušić, M. R., & Najjar, D. (2020). Building organizational trust through internal communication. Corporate Communications: An International Journal.

Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-01-2020-0023 (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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