Manage your Trust Fund

On a trip to sassy San Francisco, the home of the tech start up, I was lucky enough to hang out with a few. As someone who advocates for great workplace cultures, I was like a kid in a candy shop.

These new companies, many captained by 20-somethings, are being run just like the CEO wants to be treated. The norm are games (darts, ping pong, X box) resident dog or pets at work, fully stocked fridge of food and drinks, masseuse in once a month, come and go when you want – just get the work done.

So this is all pretty cool, right? But more traditional businesses say to me – we can’t do that, people need to be here at 8.30 each morning. Sure, I get that smaller startups have the ability to be more agile. But what you can do is cultivate a motivator more important than any of the above.


Without trust you can’t ask for accountability, engagement or commitment.

The root of all dysfunction in any business is a lack of trust. And a distrustful environment leads to expensive and sometimes fatal problems.

When you ask people to describe a working environment characterised by low levels of trust the most common responses are stressful, divisive and threatening, as opposed to a high trust environment where people say supportive, motivating, productive.

Who would choose to stay in a stressful, divisive atmosphere if they could be in a motivational, supportive one? And you know when people leave they cost between 50 – 200% of their salary to replace.

So let’s do a check on the trustometer at your place.

On a scale of 1 – 10, here’s 5 key statements your people should be able to rate at least an 8.

I can speak freely without fear of ramification when I disagree with a manager’s method or opinion

There is open communication within my team/area/organisation

I feel like I am listened to

My manager is skilled at having potentially difficult conversations

I am well informed of decisions made in my organisation

How do you foster trust? Top of the hit list is communication, so ask yourself:

Am I communicating enough information?

Am I keeping info back as part of my power?

Does my team understand clearly what they have to do and where they fit? Or do I think they understand because I’ve explained it?

Because the only thing that matters when it comes to clear communication is HOW they’ve received the information. It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve been perfectly clear. Because if they don’t think it, it doesn’t count.

Open, transparent communication is critical. Communicate frequently and in different forms. Keep people up to date, involved. Don’t ignore things that you know everyone is whispering about behind closed doors. Bring the issues out into the open and explain them as best you can.

Consider diversity training – whichever may be relevant (gender, culture, personality, disability etc)

Do what you promise. Don’t hold the big we’re-asking-you-what-you-want conference and then do nothing.

Delete inconsistent standards. Don’t cut staff and then have the exec team go to Bora Bora for a retreat.

Manage negative people (they will poison your team). Manage bad behavior (it’s contagious). Manage incompetence. If you let any troubling behavior slide everyone will blame you when they feel the effects.

Who do you trust?

Chances are that you trust them because they’re always there for you, they do what they say they’ll do. They keep your confidence. They don’t let you down. Be that person.

Because trust can take years to build but can be destroyed in a moment.

In a culture of trust, when the proverbial hits the fan, everyone sticks around to work through it.

This article was originally published in

Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, speaker coach, and author of Bite Me! and other do’s and don’ts of dealing with our differences.

To see Lynne speaking live click here.

For more information on what Lynne does, click here.

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And if you’re ready to take on the world, check out her speaker retreats for executive women here.

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