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Build a trust based workplace-stop lying

Friday, February 21 08:41:16

If an employer wants to create a positive and trust based atmosphere in the workplace there are a number of things which must not be done. The following are some indications from a book by Nan Russell, "Trust Inc., How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation"

Your actions are not aligned with stated organisational values. Too many companies follow the herd to create organisation values, without making those values an aligned part of the culture for decision making and actions taken. When nice sounding values, found on company websites and in employee handbooks, are said to be important by the company, yet aren't used for operating decisions, they encourage more than cynicism; they create distrust. AOL's website states: "Our values are our North Star in everything we do." It goes on to define one value as: "We trust and root for each other-we win as a team." I'm wondering how many AOL employees think the decision to limit contributions to their 401(k), despite high earnings, was a "team win."

You say it, but don't mean it. Barclay's career website has a section called "Meet our people" with the words "Find out more about our most important asset." It's hard to believe a company would eliminate 12,000 of its "most important assets." When any company's "most important assets" are disposable; or their "most important assets" are required to do more with less year after year or do without increases against the backdrop of executive bonuses, the hallow words spoken burn holes of distrust. If you want to give high bonuses to a select few, do that, but don't do it against shallow fluff and insincere messages that everyone matters here.

You choose "can" over "should." Leaders who operate like one of Henry VIII's newly minted wives on The Tudors, who remarked to an acquaintance, "I can because I can," are right-they can reward a few; say one thing and do another; or use employees as interchangeable pieces in a game with few winners. Objectives vary, certainly. You can increase profits and stock prices that way, but you won't build trust. Bad work cultures don't always mean bad results. But distrust does cost in lower engagement, decreased innovation, increased turnover, reduced accountability, and higher stress. The issue isn't whether you can, but whether you should ignore the costs of distrust.

Trust doesn't come with your authority. It doesn't come with your title. And it certainly doesn't come with your words. It comes from well-intentioned and self-aligned actions.