Setting The Corporate Example: The Importance of Building Trust Among The Home Team
From the perspective of leadership or management, the most progressive outlook you can foster is the acknowledgment that your employees are your greatest assets. Think of it: In line-item terms, you have the most invested in them. On a more philosophical level, these are knowledge workers, and when cultivated as such, will become your company’s greatest advocates. They are literally the face of your firm, and it’s in your best interest to keep that face smiling.
Assuming your firm falls into this camp, let’s project into the future: Your company has successfully initiated a program resulting in enthusiastic buy-in, by each employee individually, to the company’s mission and vision. Your talent feels ‘heard’ by the company for individual aspirations and goals, and there is a generally positive rapport among the staff, sustained by management’s continued nod to their excellence. BRAVO! You’ve created a workplace environment that sets your company apart in its industry.
But wait; you’re not done yet. Want to know the next step?
These smart, capable and promising assets also need to Trust in the people they work with and work for. The “company” and the individuals representing the company are indeed separate beings, and often, individual communication is not in alignment with the company mission. This can breed distrust, frustration, disengagement and employee turnover, threatening the momentum of progress. The solution, as it turns out, is to take your level of communication one step further.
Do You Walk The Talk?
A socially-safe corporate environment is necessary for attracting, retaining and promoting top talent. And management gets the creative liberty to develop that environment. Simply sending clear messages to employees describing company missions and values may not qualify as creative enough to be effective. Aim instead to establish a “safe” corporate space where folks sincerely trust one another. This includes observable expressions of trust among leadership, demonstrating that you truly buy into the culture that you’re attempting to promote, rather than just paying it lip service. It means living the culture, or as I love to say, “walking the talk”. To gauge how well your firm is accomplishing this, ask yourself these questions about your leadership:
Individuals AND Company Goal Directed: Are there checks and balances in place where an individual’s career goals are considered as they are being directed to fulfill company needs?
The Growth Mindset: Since failure is necessary to grow, is there coaching after a failure, or only judgment?
I’ve Got Your Back: When there’s a question or a problem, is it discussed with the employee like she’s a valuable colleague or is she sentenced without having the chance to clarify? Do you give your employees the benefit of the doubt?
Perpetual Feedback: Do you have a feedback system in place that is culturally understood and consistent? Or are ‘reviews’ formulaic and tied to a raise or bonus?
If these foundational ‘agreements’ are firmly embedded, you’re ready to spread the word. But if you’re finding a disconnect between these practices and the way your office communications operate, it’s time for a cultural makeover.
The Urgency of Transformation
Through DRIVEN’s research and dealings with various prestigious firms, I am often able to dissect the psychology inherent in hierarchical staffing structures. The discoveries that concern me the most are the ones that reveal rampant toxicity in intraoffice morale, exemplified by concealed animosity and paranoia. In the follow-up to this article, I will share anonymously some direct quotes from employees with whom I’ve spoken, and walk you through the underlying common cause. I promise that you will be stunned at first, and then hopeful after digesting it all.