Building a Corporate Culture of Trust

When I begin work with a client, it is usually safe to assume that they did not get out of bed that morning wondering how the corporate culture was impacting productivity. Culture often flies under the radar screen until its impact on performance becomes a problem. The problems usually have something to do with lack of confidence in others’ ability to perform and low trust levels within the organization.

So what exactly is a corporate culture and what does trust have to do with it? I would define a corporate culture as the beliefs, values, and behaviors that a company operates with over time. Regarding trust, Dennis and Michelle Reina in their book Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace explain the concept best: “Business is conducted through relationships. People need their relationships with coworkers to be trusting ones if they’re to get their job done. They need to be able to depend on each other to do his or her part, to believe that what coworkers are saying is the truth, to have confidence that they have what it takes to deliver, to receive honest feedback on the quality of their work and coaching from one another to learn new skills…Trust is inspiring and energy producing.” When people trust the character and capability of their leaders and coworkers, they are able to perform at higher levels because they are not bogged down with self-preservation behaviors.

Building a culture of trust is an ongoing process which requires vulnerability from all members of the organization. Below are the most important things an organization can do to maintain a culture of trust:

  • People are unguarded in their communication because it is safe to express their perspective. The safety is sustained because people are held accountable for behaving with honesty and integrity, and for providing positive and constructive feedback in order to help each other and the business grow.
  • People are valued for having the courage to have honest dialogue about conflict and mistakes so that relationships and productivity are maintained regardless of circumstances.
  • People are coached to develop their skills so that they can be trusted to perform with competence.
  • People surface problems and anticipate the need for change so that the company remains competitive.

Does your organization have a culture of trust? What are you willing to do to increase trust levels and improve performance in your organization? If you are interested in reading more about tools to build trust, improve performance, and boost bottom-line results, I recommend the Reina’s book Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace.