Building trust in public sector: three key skill-sets for a new engagement model

When it comes to building trust, the public sector has its fair share of issues. The latest CNN poll showed that just 13% of Americans agree that the U.S. government “can be trust to do what is right always or most of the time.” While citizens can’t be expected to agree with all decisions of the public sector, facility management and service companies can be in a position to make an impact. First and foremost, by moving beyond transactional thinking toward relationship partnerships. In this way, tangible actions fostered through a deeper understanding of public organizations limitations, can be implemented to help solve their challenges.

Building and shaping trust in the public sector is a critical asset for stakeholder management. For both sectors, the foundation of business in the future requires a shift from the historic, transactional nature of capitalism to a model of value creation that encompasses societal benefit as well as stakeholder value. This is why you’ll also notice a transition in government from being service providers to that of facilitators, brokers or commissioners. It is imperative the inventiveness and innovative nature of the private sector be carried through to building this new approach – dynamic partnerships and collaborative programs founded on transparency and trust. Developing trust in today’s operating environment requires a new model of engagement driven by the private sector.

This new model would require developing three key skill-sets:

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Engage: Partner with a variety of organisations, and seek input from a range of stakeholders while drafting clearly articulated goals, which offer both a business case and a pro-society rationale. Connect with communities in order to establish relationships with local leaders. Enlist the involvement of employees to ensure organizational alignment of goals and values.

Promote: Offer a well-formulated strategy that indicates how a proposed change will improve the lives of citizens, as well as ease budgetary pressure. Involve your partners by briefing them regularly. Foster a culture that supports your vision and is conducive to an environment where employees are encouraged to amplify their ideas.

Evaluate: Consistently reflect on performance and evolve behaviour based on collective inputs. Maintain measurable outcomes, with specific quantitative and qualitative targets, and report frequently on progress against metrics. Acknowledge where delivery falls below expectations and have a strategy oriented towards improved performance. Amend your strategy and goals while remaining authentic, and communicate the results.

Trust will be conveyed by those organizations and industries that recognize the need to move beyond transactional thinking toward relational partnerships. Both private sector and public sector organizations must rely on one another to develop trustworthiness within their organizations and that trustworthiness which is expressed outward, especially as both sectors struggle independently with stakeholder mistrust. For businesses and public sector organizations alike, collaboration is essential in order to drive growth that also benefits citizens. And the extent to which an organization behaves in line with these expectations determines how trustworthy it is perceived to be.

This blog post is based on the ISS 2020 Vision: Future of Public Sector Outsourcing whitebook.