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Are You Trustworthy? Weird Companies that Trust Their People

September 28, 2009

Updated September 17, 2013

SocialCapital For years we’ve heard the unrestrained hype: “People are our most valuable resource.” “We empower our people to make change.” “Trust is a cornerstone of our company.”

Through the years of hearing this sales job, we’ve watched companies in North America outsource their production and services to Asia and South America, pay huge bonuses to top management and indiscriminately layoff millions of workers.

An article in Business Week provides some intriguing perspectives on trust. Dov Seidman, founder and CEO of LRN, wrote a column called “Building Trust by Trusting.” LRN assists companies develop ethical corporate cultures with the goal of inspiring improved performance. In his column, Seidman talks about how banks during the financial liquidity crisis stopped trusting one another, something that had been taken for granted in the past. But when trust evaporates, so too do risk-taking and innovation.

He provides some personal anecdotes that underscore his point about building trust by trusting, ranging from how one company trusts its employees to take whatever vacation they feel is necessary to a healthcare system where physicians are encouraged to apologize when they screw up. Imagine that in litigious America, where everyone sues one another!

I personally don’t argue with the need to reestablish trust in our organizations, but it will be a steep upward climb considering the economic climate we’re in–and will be in for some time. As well, there are many other factors at play that will make restoring trust a huge challenge. For one, people have felt that rather than being part of corporate change efforts that they’re had change done to them. Bend over here comes another reorg, accompanied with some downsizing.

For those of you in management positions who want to improve the level of trust in your organizations, please read an earlier post I wrote on 10 Valuable lessons for Aspiring Leaders.

Rebuilding trust is a much longer and tortuous process than creating it with a new entity. Walking the talk constantly, being transparent in how you make decisions and being totally frank and honest are three key ways to set your organization on the right path to a trustful organization.

And one other important tip: be patient – very patient.

Trust is something that happens within people only when it is created between people.
– Chip Bell

Workforce of the Future Footer CoverClick here to download my complimentary e-book Workforce of the Future: Building Change Adaptability, 2nd Edition.

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Jim TaggartTake a moment to meet Jim.

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