5 Ways to Increase Trust in the Workplace

It’s really up to the senior management team to set the tone and do what is necessary to build a high trust work environment.

Here’s a great article about how to increase trust in the workplace: 5 Ways to Increase Trust in the Workplace.

I’ve written about this numerous times, and did my final practicum in grad school on trust. It’s pretty foundational to a successful workplace, and if we don’t get with it and understand, accept, and implement that philosophy, we’re going to find things more and more difficult, especially the workplace is taken over by millennials and Gen-Xers whose desire to feel trusted in the workplace is seemingly stronger and more important to them than to previous generations. For more of my thoughts on trust, click here.

Creating a Strong Company Culture

Really great article on building a strong company culture. Never easy to do, but if your business is new, it’s easier now than once the culture you don’t want is seeped into the walls. Changing it is harder than building it.

A few great quotes:

Culture is an output of a bunch of inputs that have to come together the right way. Specifically, it is the collision of people and their context, how they interact with each other in that context, and how that context evolves based on those interactions as they multiply. By the time you see a culture is bad — or more often (and just as pernicious) only okay — it’s a complex thing you’re dealing with, like a Mexican mole sauce with 29 ingredients that tastes funny but you don’t know why.

And this one, that reveals why it’s sometimes the best business decision to make to let go of the people who don’t fit the culture and are unwilling to change:

This is hard to say because it sounds mean: the people you fire are more important to your culture than the people you hire. It’s a half-truth, as you have to hire people who are an outstanding fit, but an important half-truth because the best way to protect the environment is to recognise where you have erred and course correct. You reveal that culture as a by-product of who stays and who goes, and to effectively experiment your way into what your culture is by learning who fits and who doesn’t — and by learning what exactly it is they are fitting into. To do this requires courage and confrontation. You muster both of these by telling yourself it’s what you must do to make the company safe for your best people, which should be the only people.

And why experience and education aren’t the end all be all of the right fit:

This is one way to screw up your culture — experience-based hiring leads to bringing in those who have the right credentials, but not the right fire in their soul.

And why mission is important (and I might add – not only organizational mission, but even department/team mission) and why it’s important that it’s communicated and “bought into”:

Half of fit is about personality; the other half is passion for the mission of the company. To gauge this, you need to actually know what the mission is.

Read the full article here: Creating a Strong Company Culture – BoF – The Business of Fashion.

are organizational policies needed?

In short, yes. But no. At least – not as detailed and lengthy and gratuitous as we’ve made most of them.

I came across this article by Dan Rockwell (find him on Twitter here and check out his site here) called “Fewer Policies – More Conversations”. It immediately resonated with me, because my experience in most organizations is that we’ve made a lot of policies as a reaction to something, or to address what Rockwell refers to as “the exceptions”, rather than have conversations about things. What this inevitably does is make things “easier” for managers, because they can blame the policy for why they’re having a corrective conversation (“well the policy says this so that’s what you have to do”), rather than having to have the more difficult conversation of why what someone did wasn’t the best idea.

(Come on. All of us who have managed people have hidden behind policy to make difficult conversations “easier”.)

Let’s take dress code for example, as it seems rather simple but organizations really love to make this super complex. If, for example, our managers and orientation leaders would take 5 minutes to state, “our dress code is business casual; if you’re every wondering if something fits with that, err on the side of a conservative interpretation of ‘business casual'”, we could likely avoid most dress code policies that detail every single little thing that employees can and cannot wear (and I’ve seen LENGTHY LISTS). Perhaps we could even show some visual examples of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Then, if someone comes into work in capri pants and flip flops, have the conversation about how that is not “business casual” wear, but more “casual wear” that’s more appropriate for mall shopping on the weekend than a workplace.

What a broader policy like that requires of supervisors, however, is a) that they provide direction and a framework early on (which may also require better/more structured orientation/onboarding), b) that they trust their people, and c) that they’re willing to say, “yeah this doesn’t work and here’s why” when they cross a line. For most supervisors, my own experience included, this seems more difficult. In the short term, throwing a policy at someone and calling the conversation “done” seems much easier. In the long run, however, an environment of mistrust, micromanagement, lack of communication, and a stifling of creative and innovative thought can be established.

To play my own devil’s advocate, I also recognize the argument that policies can make things more “fair” and “objective”, helping the manager keep things more consistent. If the policy doesn’t allow open-toed shoes or PTO requests with fewer than a week’s notice, than it doesn’t matter how much the manager likes the employee, the policy is the policy. But um yeah – over the long run, that creates a lot of compliant people, but not a lot of loyal or engaged people. (There are a ton of articles and studies on this side of things, too.)

Typically I’m not one to peruse comments on blogs, but Dan’s commenters had a lot of great things to say, including this great thought by Judith Glaser, author of “Conversational Intelligence“, amongst others:

I would say that if [policies] can be used to ‘create conversations about how we want to work together – and those working together create rules of engagement together or co-create them – then the policies are not compliance drive but they are a shared co-creation of the team…. and will galvanize the team to higher levels of productivity and self-expression.

So are policies needed? Yes. There are legal ramifications to having anarchy in a workplace. Not to mention that there are severe things that require a firm foundation of a policy – such as discrimination, harassment, etc. (Also – legal reasons.) Additionally, there have been studies shown that employees produce better and more when they are given a framework within which to function, versus a complete lack of direction. Are the vast amounts and detailed ramblings of much of our policy manuals necessary? Likely not. I think for established organizations, making the move to “eliminate” policies, or even to simplify them, would be difficult if not impossible. Policies help to dictate culture (which could be another post for another time), and culture is not an easy bird to change.

What about you? What’s your experience with organizational policies? Too little? Too much? Why or why not?


My job is now leadership development


For years, I’ve been working towards a career in the learning and development field, hoping that one day I could combine it with my (obvious if you read my blog) passion for leadership development.

Well, Monday that goal is realized. I start a job as a leadership development training specialist. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Excited to jump back into the work. Excited to read about it again. Excited to meet people and learn from them and teach them. Excited to have more things to blog about.

Eeeeek! :)


On Mission

Every company has a mission statement, don’t they? If they don’t they’re likely working on one. Even many subgroups in companies and organizations have mission and vision statements. What they heck are they for?

Unfortunately in many organizations, including some I’ve worked for, the mission statement is nothing more than fluff that may hang on a wall somewhere, but it doesn’t serve as a conduit for decisions and culture. Perhaps it’s there to make the shareholders and customers feel better and maybe even the employees? It’s hard telling.

Mission came to my mind earlier this week when I was in a meeting for one of the committees I serve on at my work in an ancillary capacity. It’s a great group of brilliant people, and while it’s been in existence for almost 2 years, the committee has tossed around the need for a mission and vision statement but hasn’t ever landed on one.

So in the meeting we’re tossing around dialogue I’m sure many of you would be familiar with.

Should the mission statement be short and easy to memorize?”

“What’s the difference between the mission statement and vision statement?”

“Should this line up somehow with the organizational mission statement?

And on and on it went. By the time the meeting was over the chair felt like we had something closer to what we’ll stick with than we’ve ever had before so I guess it was a productive time.

ANYWAY, in the middle of the meeting talking about mission, out of NOWHERE the entire mission statement for a former employer of mine popped into my head, clear as day, word for word. I momentarily thought I was crazy. I haven’t been there in over 4.5 years, and it was over 8.5 years ago that I was “indoctrinated” to this company, drank their sweet, sweet, koolaid, and propagated the mission in my own work and for everyone I hired. I encouraged everyone to memorize it, and would quiz them on the floor. “What’s our mission statement?” “Does that [action] reflect [key phrase of mission statement]?”

Oh yes. I was that person.

Because for a long time I’ve been a strong proponent of having a healthy, vibrant culture in the workplace. I’ve been a part of it done very well. I’ve been a part of it where it SUCKS. And I’d much prefer the former thankyouverymuch.

Organizations with great cultures tend to get accused of being cultish, or their employees drinking the koolaid, etc.

Well study them. Because these are also the companies with the lowest turnover, highest rates of employee engagement, and high rates of employee satisfaction. And why?

Largely because they’re all on the same page. The mission – the “why we all woke up this morning” – is pervasive throughout the organization at all levels. It informs decisions and strategic plans. It’s used to guide performance conversations and succession planning.

Mission IS important. It has to accurately reflect who you are, and why you exist, but then – the whole gang needs to get on board with it. And there needs to be an environment where employees can hold each other accountable to it.

So to my former employer who modeled what living a mission is, thanks. Please continue to hold to your uncompromising principles as you grow.

What about you all? Is the mission statement at your employer a living, breathing thing, or more decoration and not really ever talked about?

Woe to the company that loses sight of its Mission Statement for it has taken the first step on the slippery slope to failure.” – missionstatements.com

How to make sure your best people quit

I’m somewhat shocked when leaders are surprised someone has resigned on them. I’ve had my fair share of people resign on me. Rarely have I been shocked. One of my very first bosses told me to regularly have 1:1s with ALL of my people. I’ve listened – so perhaps that has helped reduce the shock because I’m usually pretty aware of what people are frustrated about.

So a friend shared this post with me and it resonated with me, because as a human resources professional, I believe some of these things should be common sense teaching for leaders, especially when they are new (either to leadership in general, or to the organization/department they’ll be working with).

A theme throughout this article seems to be that we need to understand the individuality of each person. Their strengths, what they’ve done well, where they need to improve, whether they’re fun-loving or serious – and utilize this information to address the things – proactively – that may cause them to leave in the future.

Check it out: Top 10 ways to ensure your best people will quit

workplace bliss

When you describe your workplace, does the word “bliss” come to mind?

Bliss – in its purest form…

(You probably want cookies like I do now. Sorry about that.)

Upworthy.com recently posted an infographic about workplace happiness, including the “5 happiest jobs in America” – the results of which were quite shocking to me.

It’s well worth the 2-3 minutes it’d take to look at it. Let me know if you agree with the findings, and/or share your personal thoughts/reactions!