“Building the High-Trust Organization,” by Pamela Shockley-Zalabak, Ph.D., Sherwyn Morreale, Ph.D., and Michael Z. Hackman, Ph.D., offers an internationally recognized model for creating organizational trust. Using a wealth of illustrative case studies and compelling interviews, this book offers leaders the guidance they need to create a solid foundation of trust that will lead to long-term organizational success.

Over 80 percent of all organizations report significant aspects of their work are performed virtually. Most interact with customers, investors, clients or donors through electronic communications.

Face-to-face familiarity decreases with the increased capability of working across time and space. Leaders are responsible for people they have never met in person. Diverse cultural backgrounds and languages are represented in many teams of workers who support products and services around the globe. Work can be performed anywhere, any time and by anyone (almost). Old control and monitoring systems are obsolete.

If we are to enjoy the efficiencies and other benefits of the virtual organization, we will have to rediscover how to run organizations based more on trust than on control. A virtual organization requires trust to make it work: Technology on its own is not enough.

So what does it take to build trust in virtual organizations? Leaders need to take responsibility for building trust and aligning strategies with the overall goals and purpose of the organization. Building trust in virtual environments requires a melding of roles and expectations with appropriate technology to support excellent results.

The following recommendations are research-based and have been tested with clients in a variety of virtual environments.

  • Develop norms and expectations for virtual work, relating expectations to the vision and purpose of the organization
  • Set meeting and communication standards
  • Ensure appropriate skills for using technology
  • Research and design user-friendly work environments
  • Use multiple methods of communicating including teleconferences and face-to-face meetings – make personal contacts with virtual workers
  • Ensure that employees and other stakeholders know how their work relates to the overall excellence of the organization
  • Provide information on individual and organizational results
  • Ask for feedback and suggestions for improvements
  • Deal directly and swiftly with trust breaches
  • Support continual learning and development
  • Reward and recognize contribution

Building the High-Trust Organization” is available through IABC.