Why Trust Is The Key To Optimizing Performance And Wellbeing At Work
At some point in our careers, most of leaders experience a toxic workplace culture. The symptoms are obvious: poor performance, high turnover, problem employees, burnout, political infighting, a lack of commitment, and unhealthy conflict. It’s usually the result of too little trust and too much fear.
On the other hand, in a positive culture, everyone feels safe to make their own mistakes, and grow from them. It’s an environment where healthy conflict is the norm. For organizations looking to optimize the performance and wellbeing of their employees, there’s only one place to start – earn trust.
In this blog post, I look at some of the main challenges facing leaders tackling a toxic workplace culture, 3 ways to build trust and how Positive Intelligence can help.
Leading the way
Leaders are the guardians of company culture. So a culture of mutual trust and respect starts at the top. Leaders are like gardeners: they sow the seeds (positive culture), and nurture the plants (employees) by giving them the right conditions to grow strong (trust).
It’s common for many leaders to get defensive when someone points out there is room for improvement in their company culture. After all, it’s much easier to ignore the problem and blame the employees instead. But that’s an expensive choice to make.
Employees who are afraid to make mistakes, don’t grow, don’t learn and therefore cannot perform at their peak. A toxic workplace culture also carries another huge cost: the wellbeing of everyone in your organization.
As a leader, it’s up to you to turn a toxic culture into one of trust.
3 Ways To Build Trust
Taking a team or organization from toxic to trust takes time. It won’t happen overnight, but it does start with you as the leader. It will also take a range of strategies. Here are three:
- Be authentic and vulnerable. You need to role model the behaviour you want to see in your organization, and your mindset is contagious. So choose to have a positive mindset. Show empathy, curiosity, creativity, clarity, and calm. It’s okay to show that you’re an imperfect human, too. Speak up and admit to making mistakes. This inspires others to do the same and learn and grow from it. Value your employees as imperfect humans as well.
- Take time to meet and mingle. You earn trust one person at the time. And to grow a culture of trust, you need to be more connected to your team. Be with your employees at every function, and in the most informal settings possible. Spend at least 50% of your time with your non-leadership colleagues, and share how you make decisions and lead. Check in with your employees every day. Ask how they’re doing face to face, on the phone, or on a video call. Listen and take feedback seriously.
- Be open and honest with your employees. Talk about your organization’s vision for culture and results. Discuss fear, but discuss trust as well. Give your employees greater visibility over the future by sharing your organization’s roadmap. The more they know about the plans, priorities, challenges and opportunities, the more in sync they will be with your leadership.
As an Executive Leadership Coach, I love using Positive Intelligence Program with leaders and their teams and organizations to improve trust, relationships, productivity and wellbeing within their organization. Instead of treating symptoms, we go to the root cause of your company culture and improve the entire team’s mental fitness. Mental fitness is your ability to deal with challenges and change with a positive, growth mindset instead of a negative fixed mindset driven by fear.
We practice building trust together, starting with being more true to yourselves and communicating and upholding your promises and commitments. Being vulnerable is a strength. Vulnerability creates more trust and trust creates better relationships. A positive culture of mutual trust and respect should be the highest priority for any leader looking to optimize performance and wellbeing at work. And you can start right now!
To find out more about building a positive culture based on trust in your organization, contact me for a complementary information session. Contact me
- ‘Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential, and How You Can Achieve Yours’ by Shirzad Chamine
- ‘The FIVE Dysfunctions of a TEAM’ by Patrick Lencioni