Business success thrives on trust: to some degree, you trust that your customers and suppliers and vendors will all pay what they’ve promised, deliver goods on time, and keep the services running that you rely on to power your business.
But trust is a tricky thing. And we’re often unsure exactly how much we can (or should) trust people.
It’s one of the reasons some business owners struggled with the idea of remote or hybrid work.
Too much trust is also a significant driver in cyberattacks, data theft, and any other sort of digital threat your business faces.
One recent survey revealed something shocking: around a third of business owners don’t trust their own staff.
Let’s take a look at why this is — both the good and the not-so-good reasons business leaders struggle to trust employees — along with what you can do to improve this crucial area.
Why Leaders Struggle to Trust
Many leaders struggle to trust because of past experience. This could be simple, relatively low-stakes issues like Sam from sales habitually failing to turn in reports. Or it could be from really significant past issues, like a disgruntled employee stealing business secrets on his way out the door.
Maybe an employee’s poor choices were the direct or indirect cause of a previous attack or data breach. The employee didn’t have any ill intent, but clicking on that malicious link was all it took to expose your business to all sorts of headaches — and maybe even lost clients or sales.
Where Leaders Trust Too Much
There’s also an opposite side to this issue, where leaders do trust their employees — but they give them too much trust, or trust them in ways that end up becoming harmful.
We see this in the IT space when businesses don’t set up any access control (in other words, every single employee has access to every single digital space, asset, and data set). This isn’t so much about trusting your employees to do right; it’s about making wise business choices.
We also see this when businesses don’t institute any safeguards around passwords. If your employees can use the same simple password for everything and you never require them to change it, then that’s too much trust. Those passwords will eventually get compromised, and your business could be at risk.
The Right Balance
So what’s the right balance here? We think it’s great to develop a staff culture where you can trust employees and they can trust you. But that trust should be about who they are and what choices they will make — not about how you set up your IT infrastructure.
With your infrastructure, we actually recommend something called zero-trust architecture — this doesn’t mean that you don’t trust your employees. Instead, it means that your systems and software don’t trust that users are who they say they are, without certain types of advanced verification.
Done well, like with the new passkey system that’s currently in development and early rollout from the big tech companies, zero-trust is extremely effective at keeping systems secure, but it doesn’t interfere with your team’s ability to get stuff done.
Training is another key factor: it’s tough to trust your people (and maybe even foolish to do so) when they don’t even know what they’re supposed to do to keep your business data safe.
The line between trust and carelessness is a tricky one, but shoring up the tech side of things is a great way to help improve outcomes and grow trust. Whether it’s access control, password management, zero-trust architecture, security awareness training, or all of the above, the Blue Ridge Tech team is here to help. Reach out today to discuss your needs.