In many businesses trust is hard to find. Do time cards, lengthy HR manuals, top down management and lack of transparency lend themselves to an environment of trust? Not so much. Organizations that have great cultures are based on values and trust. A healthy corporate culture is rife with trust at all levels, including vendors, customer and consultants. From executives to front line employees and everyone in between. At this juncture in corporate history trust is starting to make it’s way into our cultures and has been for 30 years of so, though it’s still the exception and not the rule. Too many executives are doing things the way we did them 100 years ago by holding on to controlling behaviors and focusing on short term profits.
Street Art from NOLA
Certainly it’s easier to build trust into a companies DNA from the start than to add it in later. Companies like Zappos, Joi De Vivre and Atlassian are values based and built around trust. We can look to them as models of how to start new companies. The first company I know of that transformed itself from the old model to one based on trust and values is Semco in Brazil. It started as a traditional top down manufacturing company with a single division and a handful of products. The transformation started about 30 years ago and took 3 years initially but it’s an ongoing process. The book Good to Great has some good examples of companies that have made this transformation.
Who do you trust? Do you trust your boss, your coworkers, your team, the executives, your customers? From the field of neuroscience and neurobiology we know that trust is essental to social interaction and that we are primarily social beings. For example, our brains can’t tell the difference between physical and social pain. Most organizations can’t do much work without social interaction. In order to use higher brain functions that result in things like creativity you need trust. Without it, your brain sinks down into fight of flight mode and the lizard brain takes over. When your spending time worried about what is fair or what your status is, your lizard brain is at work.
Moving from a top down, carrots and sticks model to one based on trust and values is difficult. It’s also necessary if your organization wants to stay competitive and viable for the long term. Ask yourself whether you’d rather follow the orders from on top or help be the change you’d like to see in the world? If your answer is the later, then you need to find ways to bring more trust into your life.