In the “old” days, commitment’s path to success was fairly straightforward and prescriptive: follow this framework or process, and you’ll get there.

Today, the commitment path is rather ambiguous and to a great extend unknown. It’s a discovery, not a prescriptive process, with many options to be qualified.

Success that used to be via a tangible output, a new product or service, today can be both tangible and intangible, like new learnings, viewpoints, networks, or opportunities.

Trust is at the core of the daily work activities that collectively make up company culture.

As Deborah Mills-Scofield explains in the Harvard Business Review, “Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission that makes “work” bigger than oneself.”

When it comes to trust, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.

Realities of 21st century business make accountability even more daunting

 “In the “old” days, a commitment’s path to success was fairly clear, linear, defined and prescriptive: follow this framework or process, and you’ll get there. Today, the path is usually messy, ambiguous, paradoxical, and maybe unknown. We may need to create our own frameworks and processes. It’s a discovery, not a prescriptive process, with many ways to get where we’re going, not “a” way to succeed. Success itself has changed; it used to be via a tangible output, a new product or service, a “thing” based more on what was probable than possible. Success today can be both tangible and intangible, like new learnings, viewpoints, networks, or opportunities, where we look for what is not just probable, but possible.”

Deb Mills-Scofield, strategy and innovation consultant and partner in Glengary LLC, venture capital firm

Most importantly infusing trust and transparency requires open communication at all levels with a willingness on the part of management to hear constructive criticism.

For example, many startups have created cultures based around staff perks like a ‘no vacation policy vacation policy’, flexible work practices.

The underlying statement is:

I trust your judgement when using these privileges’.

HubSpot placed trust at the centre of their organisation as presented in their Culture Code –that sums up their nine key beliefs as an organisation. HubSpot has replaced company policies, with a simple three-word policy: use. good. judgement.

Trust is a mutual arrangement

Staff need to trust their management, and them to be able to trust their employees and feel confident in their ability to move the company forward.

As Stephen M.R. Covey explains in his book, The Speed of Trust, trust is the great liberator of time and resources, and an essential condition for growth. He argues that “when trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down”, and that “when trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.” Covey explains that the speed at which you can grow your business is directly proportionate to the time that you invest in creating trusting relationships.

The best way to create a culture of trust is to begin by being open and honest and by being transparent in all our interactions, we will create a culture of trust around us.

Transparency in the Workplace

Employees need to know what’s going on in order to feel secure in their job and perform at their highest level.

It requires a commitment to infusing shared purpose and transparency into all aspects and all levels of the business.

HubSpot’s commitment to transparency as described in their Culture Code: “We are radically and uncomfortably transparent”, is based on the belief that power comes from sharing information, not from hoarding it, and that transparency supports smarter behavior, better decisions, and autonomy.

Buffer, has taken it a step further. There is virtually nothing that team members don’t know about each other. From sharing their sleep patterns using Jawbone Up devices, to salary information and equity — nothing is kept secret. “A lot of companies want to be transparent, but often it ends up to be just a word written on a wall”, says Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer. “We really wanted to go all the way with transparency and think about it from scratch and that is what we came up with.”

According to David Hassell of 15Five, before you make that commitment to becoming transparent, you need to be absolutely certain that the message you are sending aligns with your organisational goals.

Like HubSpot, Buffer has developed a culture code with eight key values, almost all of which revolve around trust and transparency, including:

– Default to transparency
– Have a focus on self-improvement
– Have a bias towards clarity

For managers, it allows them to feel satisfied knowing that their staff are doing their job, allowing them to focus on major business goals. For employees, it allows them to feel secure in the knowledge that the company is being well-managed.


Trust and communications in the heart of your organisation.

How can middle managers regain employee trust to ensure the continued success of their organisation?

A survey of 1,456 CMI members highlights a disturbing disconnect between middle and senior management.

Read on to learn more about the vital role middle managers play in the overall health of an organisation and CMI’s recommendations to keep the heart of UK business pumping.


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