Leadership: Creating a company culture of trust…

by ellis j. still

Company culture is generally defined as the shared values and practices of the employees. As a large company, an individual’s values have little effect on the company’s culture. As an entrepreneur, your values play a significant role in shaping how your company will operate. Likewise, it is important to not have a defacto (in fact, on paper) company culture cited with the vision and mission, and the dejur (real life) culture is the opposite. The dynamics of culture do not limit themselves to the workplace. These are the same values that create cultures at home, and within friendships as well.

Company culture is the heartbeat of the workplace. It’s your company’s behavior or way of life. It is how the company breathes. It is how the company grows. Within that culture there are various dynamics that when combined create the culture. This post centers on creating a company culture of trust.

Trust is a fragile emotion and once broken, is not easily repaired. When there is an environment of trust, people will go to bat for you. People will champion your cause. People will support you when you are down and when all seems lost, because they know that you will do the same for them. We are all called to unconditional love for God and our neighbors despite how they treat us, yet trust, however, is a different matter entirely.

Trust is earned over a period of time. When dating, you feel each other out… not only for compatibility, but also for a sense of trustworthiness. It’s the same with building trust in the workplace. Synonyms of trust include confidence, expectation, reliance, dependence and conviction. Customers need to know that you will follow through with your promises, that you wont take advantage of them financially to meet your short term financial projections, and that if something by chance goes wrong, you will keep them informed. It is many more times easier to lose a customer than it is to keep one. On the flip side, your coworkers (I tend to use the term coworkers instead of employees) need to know that there is trust in the ability to do their jobs, (no micro-managing) that they will be treated with respect, and that you have the ability to do right by them.

Without that trust, an environment will be created where you will not get the best out of your coworkers, you will loose repeat customers, and ultimately your business will not realize its full potential. Business is about making the numbers, but it is the intangibles that get you to the numbers – the touchy feely part that makes the numbers work. It’s building genuine relationships with people. It’s how people perceive who you are, your character and integrity (or the lack of).

The opposite of trust is distrust. Synonyms come to mind such as skepticism, apprehensiveness, trepidation, doubt, and suspect. People tend to think that being a jerk is the best way to get more out of your coworkers and the ensure the bottom line is met…. And it may, for the short term. But those customers and coworkers will never trust you again. If you are not trustworthy in the small things, how do you expect God to bless you with the greater things? How do you expect to handle the big things – i.e. grow your company?

1.) Trust takes time to maturate. Trust is a function of observable action over time. If that trust is consistently compromised, it will take considerable time and effort to repair.

1.) Do what you say you will do, and if there is a change of plans, communicate. Sometimes there is a false perception of shady behavior often alleviated by clear channels of communication.

2.) Evaluate yourself. Take a hard look at your motives behind your ever action and ask ‘is this something that will edify the person?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

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