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What does trust mean to you?

A quick Google search will give you some ideas on key words related to trust: confidence, belief, faith, reliance. There are also many different trust definitions available online, which for me illustrates how personal trust is. One of the trust definitions I liked the most was simply “Your actions are consistent with the values which you consider to be important” – so not only being who we say we are, but also who we want to be.

Why do we talk about trust so much? Why does trust matter to us? We’re the supplier of an essential service to 1.2 million customers. That’s easy to say as a matter of fact, but if you think about it, that’s a huge responsibility. We’re present in the daily lives of every single one of those 1.2 million people. But most don’t really think about us, some don’t even know who we are, but yet they trust us to deliver an essential part of their lives. The water we provide is vital to their health and to their wellbeing. They’re big things to be responsible for.

Being trusted is really important to us here at Bristol Water. You can tell that from our vision – “trust beyond water” and the fact that trust is one of our four corporate objectives.  Trust is also important to us personally as employees, it’s something which we talk about regularly and ‘trustworthy’ is one of our seven values which we work by.

In a recent session to explore our company values, our CEO Mel posed the question “What does trust mean to you”? Mel said that for him, it means doing what we say we will do and being who we say we are – a pretty good definition we thought. But Mel also challenged everyone in the room to think about what trust means to us.

We explored trust in the working environment in a subsequent values session with Mel, by considering ‘The Trust Triangle’. Basically this boils down to being caring (your motivation for being trusted), being reliable (being sincere, true to your values) and competent (being able to do the task in hand). This all makes sense doesn’t it?

But what’s the best way to put this into practice for our customers and for each other? I like these trust principles from one of the many web articles out there on trust.

Four Principles of Trust

There are four principles:
1) A focus on the other (customers, co-workers, stakeholders)
2) A collaborative approach (willingness to work together to achieve joint goals)
3) A medium to long term focus (not a short term transactional focus, but focus on the long-term relationship)
4) Being transparent (as a habit)

These principles align perfectly with the ethos behind our ‘social contract’, which we published last week. This contract is hugely important to us because it sets out the framework by which we will deliver our social purpose – a purpose which focuses on the wellbeing of our customers, our colleagues, our local communities and the environment through working in collaboration with local partners. Our social contract is closely aligned to our future ambition, which sets out our focus over the long-term (25 year horizon) and is underpinned by a governance and reporting framework, which priorities transparency. Our social contract therefore delivers on each of the four principles trust principles set out above. This isn’t a happy coincidence, but a reflection of our company purpose and values.

So what does trust mean to you?

For me personally, trust means that everyone is supportive of each other, both openly and through their actions and conversations with others. It also means that I know that everyone is working hard to do the right thing, for our customers, for the business and for ourselves. I’m proud to work for Bristol Water, where our purpose and our values have such a strong focus, right from the top of the organisation.