Making Yours a Great Place to Work – Part 3

Trust Among Co-Workers, Especially Among Management and Staff

Third is trust. Communication is easy; trust is hard. I’ll bet next week’s grocery money that someone who you know and trust may have fumbled their communication about something to you, yet, because there was high trust between you, you still got their meaning.


Group of people with hands togehter


The often-used analogy comparing trustworthiness to a bank account is useful here. You have a trustworthiness account with everyone with whom you interact. Consciously or not, you make deposits into it, thus building the trust the other person has in you, and you make withdrawals from it, thus reducing the trust that that other person has in you. In that spirit, there are 6 behaviors that represent deposits, 6 behaviors that build trust; they are:

  • First is listening such that the other person feels understood—not necessarily agreed with, but understood. The test of this is if you can restate what the other person is trying to communicate to you such that the other person will say, “Yes, you’ve got it.”
  • Second is treating the other person with civility, even when they may not be treating you in a similar manner.
  • Third is honoring the explicit commitments that you make. Another name for an explicit commitment is, “a promise.” Keeping your promises builds trust, breaking a promise erodes, even destroys, trust. So, make your promises carefully.
  • Fourth is honoring the implicit commitment that you make. Another name for implicit commitments is “expectations.” A missed expectation has the same psychological impact as a broken promise; so, manage the expectations that you create carefully.
  • Fifth is not being duplicitous. A person is being duplicitous when they sweet-talk someone to their face, but bad-mouth them behind their back. Being duplicitous erodes trust because if you sweet-talk your boss, for example, to their face, but bad-mouth them behind their back to a co-worker, what does that co-worker know that you’ll be doing to them should the two of you ever have a falling out?
  • Last but not least is being humble and apologizing if you blow any of the above.

And, of course, the opposite of these things, and the neglect of these things erodes trust.

(Bonus tidbit: It is the practice of these same six behaviors that defines good customer service. Customers worth earning and keeping will put up with imperfect, but in return they will expect that you care.)

A Friendly and Respectful Environment

Fourth is a workplace that is friendly and respectful. I’m not talking about everyone being drinking buddies; people just need to be friendly and respectful with each other.

Respectful discourse is a lynchpin of a friendly and respectful environment, and there are three simple, straightforward elements to respectful discourse that I learned from my parents:

  • Say what you mean (i.e., honesty).
  • Mean what you say (i.e., integrity).
  • Don’t be mean when you say it (i.e., civility).

Doing Their Work in a Way, and That Produces Results, That Gives Them Pride

Finally, nobody likes to make crap; they especially don’t like it when they are required to make crap. If you want the kind of people in your organization who take pride in their craft and in their practice of it, whatever their craft might be, then don’t hire such people only to imprison them in an organization that burdens them with processes where craftsmanship is not valued. If craftsmanship isn’t important to your organization’s mission, then just outsource the production of whatever it is your organization produces.

Good News

Want some good news? None of the five elements discussed above costs any money; all can be accomplished with exactly zero capital or expense. What they do require, however, is someone with strength of character and strength of leadership at the helm.