Recently, I had the opportunity to ask James M. Kerr a few questions about culture, trust and engagement. Jim is a Partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He is a business strategist and organizational behaviorist. His latest book is The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change.
You cite studies showing that trust in business is at an all time low. What do you do to reverse that and increase trust?
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. Some of the ideas that I discuss in The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change to reverse the trend include:
1. Place Focus on the Outside
The competition lives outside the four walls of the organization. In-fighting just wastes time and energy and can contribute to distrust. Placing focus on the competition allows a firm to put that energy to good use and diminishes the time that staff dedicates to internal politics and positioning.
“Focus on the competition to diminish the time dedicated to internal politics.” -James Kerr
2. Make It a “No Spin” Zone
Management must set an expectation that all of the business dealings of an enterprise are done with the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in mind. Eliminating “spin” improves transparency and enhances trust.
3. Don’t Play Games
If you play games and pit one group against another, you’re encouraging others to follow suit. Play the work setting straight-up, with no innuendo – just honesty. Trust will follow.
“Play the work with no innuendo – just honesty. Trust will follow.” -James Kerr
4. Do Your Job
It’s our job to ensure that everyone knows what success is and what their role is in achieving it. Once that is established, attention must shift to making sure everyone “does their job.” This focus contributes to establish a high trust work environment.
“Ensure everyone knows what success is and what their role is in achieving it.” -James Kerr
5. Do Your Best
Expect the best and people will rise to the occasion. As they do, confidence will rise accordingly. The need to play games and be deceitful will lessen and trust will fill the void left behind.