The importance of a culture of trust


I nipped out of the workshop into the corridor leaving 22 people in the capable hands of our Training Director, Alan. The workshop was on the subject of Motivation and we'd decided to give someone £5 for completing a task to demonstrate how different people are motivated by different rewards.
 
The only problem was I didn't have £5. Neither did Alan. So there I was running through the corridors of Rudding Park Hotel looking for someone I recognised so I could borrow a fiver.
 
Luckily, I ran, almost immediately, into Peter Banks, Managing Director of Rudding Park. He was talking to someone I'd never met but he noticed me, as always and asked,
"Is everything alright Laura?" 
"Can I borrow £5?" I blurted out.
He looked surprised but immediately said "Let me see…" rifling through his pockets.
The stranger he had been talking to moments before immediately offered to give me money, "I've got £10 you can have."
Peter then withdrew a five pound note and handed it over with a smile.
I thanked Peter, and the stranger, and ran back to finish the workshop. But a thought had taken root in my mind.
 
Why did the stranger, someone I'd never met, offer to lend me money? How could there be trust between us if we've never seen each other before? The answer is that we were both members of a culture of trust. The cultures you are a member of make clear what behaviours are acceptable and which are not. They establish rules of engagement, what is expected of you and how you should treat other people.
 
The stranger trusted Peter and Peter trusted me so that trust was extended between the two of us.
 
Creating a culture is no more complicated than rewarding the behaviour you want and discouraging the behaviours you don't. Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy however. It takes thought, effort and courage.
 
In a culture of trust you can give constructive criticism because the person you are critiquing trusts that you have their best interests at heart. You trust that they will take your feedback and use it to improve themselves and push the business even further towards its goals. In a culture of trust people can work remotely and you trust that they are achieving the same or more than having you looking over their shoulder. You can trust that they'll get as much done turning up at 10 as they would turning up at 9.
 
We've all worked in places where there was no trust. How did that feel? Did it make you more effective or less? Did it make you loyal and care deeply about the businesses goals? Which culture would you prefer to work in? Which do you think achieves the most?
 
As a leader it is incumbent on you to do the hard work of creating a highly effective culture. It's difficult but it is simple.


Laura Bouttell is managing director of leadership and culture training specialists, Quarterdeck. She will be sharing the secrets of building a culture of trust at the Northern Lights conference in York on Friday 4 October. Find out more here and book your place. 
 
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