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Image by Joel Muniz

The Nonprofit Mindset: How This New Outlook Helps Business Leaders

With people talking about a post-pandemic restart to the economy, your business might be looking to bring in a fresh new outlook. If you’ve so far struggled to find this fresh direction in 2021, you might want to consider taking a page out of the nonprofit handbook – starting with the nonprofit mindset.

We’re not talking about changing your business model, of course. Instead, consider giving your business a unique edge in your market and make the most of limited resources by thinking like a nonprofit.

How do nonprofits do that? What measures, systems, and presentation elements are immediately transferable to for-profit enterprises? Here’s how you can think like a nonprofit to ensure your business benefits from a fresh outlook.

What Do Nonprofits Do Well?

First, let’s take a look at what nonprofits do exceptionally well.

You might think nonprofits remained focused on their mission 100% of the time. And building an operation around a force for good is undoubtedly inspiring and commendable. But many nonprofits are more than that; they’re well-oiled machines doing innovative work with a percentage of the resources’ blue chip’ organizations are able to leverage.

Most notably, nonprofits excel in:

  • Offering staff unique opportunities in the workplace
  • Developing enjoyable office and on-site working environments
  • Reacting quickly and creatively to new stories (great comms departments)
  • Diversifying their funding and revenue streams

Pick up just one of these traits by looking at nonprofit operations, and your business will gain a significant edge over your competitors.

(This Donorbox article is an excellent bit of extended reading on the signs of a successful nonprofit.)

Developing Connections and Earning Trust

Nonprofit Mindset: World Help

Image: Vet Comp & Pen

While a nonprofit user base might look a little different from your typical e-commerce store or Instagram influencer’s audience, there are many transferable methods and approaches that can help form a nonprofit mindset. Taking note of how each organization uniquely addresses its audience could inspire your next campaign or website update.

Nonprofits don’t just treat their user bases as customers but stakeholders in a mission. If their customers buy second-hand items, for example, they’re buying into that mission. If they need assistance on a personal level, they’re buying into a solution that provides them with the help they need. That greater sense of togetherness helps instill trust, as does content built around it. In other words, making people (or animals or the environment) the focus of your content (instead of your products and profit motive) is a great way to earn those users’ trust and strengthen bonds with them.

While veteran compensation consultancy Vet Comp & Pen isn’t a nonprofit, it does incorporate a nonprofit mindset in its content. Looking at their website, you quickly notice the presence of previous users/customers and their feedback. This doesn’t just reinforce the legitimacy of the company and their work, but it also strengthens the connection between them and the wider veteran audience.

It’s not enough to say you’re different; you have to prove it. And the best way to do that is by incorporating impactful testimonials into your messaging.

It’s much harder to earn the audience’s trust as a for-profit business; we’re not arguing otherwise. However, the techniques nonprofits use are hardly revolutionary. Putting typical users at the front of their web design and branding, integrating themselves into online communities, and giving them decision-making powers are all easily adoptable methods that make a huge difference.

Three lessons:

  • Make mission-focused content
  • Make your team a prominent part of your website
  • Encourage feedback from positive experiences

Creating a More Organic Social Media Presence

Nonprofit Mindset World Help

Image: World Help Instagram

You might not be much of a Tweeter or Instagrammer yourself, but you probably understand how important social media is to running a modern business. However, not everyone gets it right.

Social media is an essential tool for nonprofits. It provides an inexpensive way of getting their message and mission noticed by the right audience. For-profit enterprises should emulate this strategy to diversify their digital output without adding extraordinary costs.

Social media can feel forced, so aim for a more organic presence and growth pattern. Rather than bombard your suspected target market with ads, aim for a more natural approach and let your brand speak for itself. Look at World Help and Choose Love and how they’ve put the people they aim to help at the front and center of their Instagram output. This approach makes the content feel less like advertising and draws people in with a story.

Aim for a multi-pronged social media presence. Don’t just focus on regular posts. Use Instagram and Facebook stories, for example, to react to topical issues and events. Give your audience incentives to share content (and be willing to associate yourself with other brands by sharing their content). And use live streaming as a way of connecting directly with influential members of your online community.

Yes, these are all social media basics – but the best nonprofits are getting it right every day. With a nonprofit mindset, so will your organization.

Three lessons:

  • Don’t make yourself or your business the story
  • React to topical events on social media
  • Live stream for immediate feedback

Learning to Do More with Less

Everyone knows most nonprofits lack the spending power of major brands and corporations. People also understand nonprofits doing more with less is crucial for their operation.

This is an important lesson for every small-time startup and garage side hustle out there. You might not have the funding – but drive, solid messaging, and creative thinking can get you pretty far. Even the way these organizations structure their workdays makes an impact.

Of course, the aims of a nonprofit can help it earn media coverage and praise that a for-profit business of the same size couldn’t necessarily win. However, this should signal every small business owner that getting involved in social causes and trying to make a difference works. It is not just a way to feel good about your business; it’s a way of making an impact on a bigger stage.

Investing in charity, championing social causes, and involving your team in community projects is a great way to gain free advertising and profile building for your business. After all, doing more with less is about making sure people are taking notice of you. You could follow the thought leadership route or put all your extra cash into funding good causes. Either way will earn you unique coverage in new and old media you can turn into leads.

Of course, always remember that the idea that social media has leveled the playing field is unfounded, as a significant budget will always help brands rise to the top. However, creative use of media on a low budget can help you get noticed by people who prefer content with care applied with precision.

Nonprofits are also known for making the most of potentially outdated forms of marketing, such as print content and fundraising emails. Sign up for a couple yourself and analyze how subtle copy and well-placed CTAs help them earn donations.

Three lessons:

  • Content doesn’t always require a huge budget
  • Audiences react to interventions on social issues
  • Giving back can help you earn media opportunities

The NonProfit Mindset: Making it Work for Your Business

Nonprofit organizations excel in creating a passionate community around their work and telling insightful stories. And they do all of that on very tight budgets.

Take a deep dive into their content output. Look at how they interact with audiences through social media and email. Emulate how they structure their teams and incorporate real-world customers and stakeholders in their outreach. Gain all this insight.

Then make the nonprofit mindset work for your organization in 2021.

 

Frank McKenna

[#WorkTrends] Unmute Yourself! How Remote Workers Can Self-Advocate

As an isolated team member, how do you sustain an effective communication chain, stay productive, and get what you need out of your employer? How do you unmute yourself?

For many, the coronavirus crisis has meant working conditions they could not have anticipated. Now, collaboration and face-to-face contact — once common practice — are non-existent. We can no longer lean over the cubicle to ask a quick question. An experienced co-worker, assistance from a trusted colleague, and feedback from a manager can be hard to find. Today, we go it alone, working from home. 

Which means we must put ourselves in a position to get what we need from our employer. We need to find a way to be seen — and heard. For that to happen, we must first hone and then leverage finely tuned communication skills. Skills we may not have previously mastered.

I wonder: How many of us are genuinely comfortable advocating for ourselves? 

Our Guest: Rachel Druckenmiller, Wellbeing Expert at UnmutedLife

Our guest on this week’s episode of WorkTrends is Rachel Druckenmiller, a wellbeing expert recognized as the No. 1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. and a national thought leader in the field of employee engagement. When I asked why more people aren’t speaking up and advocating for themselves during these trying times, we jumped right into this timely topic. Rachel’s answer was enlightening:

“We thought this was all going to be over by now. Then we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll have Easter. Then Thanksgiving.’ Now we’re realizing, ‘No, this is gonna be a long haul.’”

“So the important thing is to step back and recognize that we’ve been in chronic fight or flight mode — an acute response that puts us in a reactive part of our brain. And we stay there. Not just because of pandemic fatigue, but because of the climate crisis, political, social, and racial injustice, and work demands and homeschooling.” Rachel went on to add for people working from home, the timing couldn’t have been worse: “We lost our outlets and social connections. We lost a method of release.” 

“We stopped speaking up.”

Combined with the prolonged trauma many of us are experiencing, this form of self-silencing, Rachel told us, can have a negative impact on each of us. “It ends up being a host for emotional, relational, mental health challenges like depression and loneliness, marital problems, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and more.”

Learning How to Unmute Yourself

Rachel used an interesting analogy to help us learn how to unmute ourselves…

“In the wild, a gazelle is getting chased by a tiger. The gazelle gets caught. So now, it will play dead. The gazelle will go limp; it will try to trick the tiger into thinking that they’re already dead. Often, the tiger will leave. The gazelle will get up and shake it off. And when they do, they release all that negative energy. They feel new again.”

Rachel went on to say: “Animals in the wild release energy, and humans don’t. We compound it. We have one stress, and we never resolve it. Then we take on another stress, and we never resolve that one. Eventually, the body has to do something with all that stress. We need the release. We need to speak up!”

I mentioned to Rachel that leaders also need to help with this release. They must step up in an emotionally intelligent way and intentionally interact with their people. Leaders must serve as, or provide, a form of release. Rachel agreed, “In times of crisis, what followers need most from leaders is trust, compassion, stability, and hope. To do that, they must ask for feedback, then act on what was said.”

Leaders as Release

Rachel went on to say the leaders who provide this form of release — that enable us to unmute — are highly valued. We rate them as the most likable, approachable, and trustworthy.

Our conversation only got better from there. We discussed practical methods of releasing unwanted energy, increasing self-awareness, and how to be your own advocate by taking action. 

I thank Rachel Druckenmiller for joining me on the #WorkTrends podcast this week. I enjoyed every minute… and you will too. Listen in!

 

Find Rachel on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and also our #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com

The Power of Check-Ins: 7 Proven Strategies

A large component of any work culture is how managers assess and review employee performance and chart progress. Given the remote and hybrid nature of so many workplaces today, the approach is evolving — from top-down, unilateral, formal reviews to more dynamic and continual conversations. We’re seeing an increasing need for transparency and authenticity, and for recognizing how important it is for managers to reach out to employees — not just around a series of tasks accomplished, but around overall contributions to the organization and their own sense of goals and performance. Check-ins enable managers and employees to do just that. They create a framework of interaction and communication through a continuous cycle, and are proving far more effective than traditional reviews. They’re becoming a hallmark of modern talent management, and for good reason. 

Done well, check-ins build a dynamic relationship between manager and employee that increases engagement, enhances employee experience, and organically aligns employee and employer goals. But they need to be conducted not as check-ups, but as two-way interactions focused on trust as well as growth. 

The Value of Trust

For those already doing them right, check-ins with employees are focused on growth, albeit in small doses. It’s not hard to connect a cadence of conversations that include feedback, advice and dialogue to the development of our employees after all. But trust is just as key: all successful relationships are built on trust, especially in today’s workplace. It’s human nature to reject feedback and advice from someone we don’t trust, and that extends readily into the workplace. Without trust, the check-in process would fail before it started.

As with any other HR strategy there are best practices for conducting check-ins, whether from home or the office. Recently I sat down with TalentCulture’s Meghan M. Biro to level-set on seven critical factors that can standardize your check-in strategy — without diminishing either responsiveness or flexibility:   

Approach: Check-ins are not about a top-down, unilateral approach. While the role of managers has always entailed authority and supervision, when it comes to check-ins, managers need to scale back that dynamic. 

Replace the reflex to be assertive with a focus on the employee. Truly understand what makes them tick; this means listening to their thoughts, opinions and concerns and acting on them. Research by the Harvard Business Review shows that the more you listen to employees, the better they think you are at giving feedback, and so the more likely they are to trust what you say. 

Purpose: Check-ins embody a shift in purpose. They depart from the static occasion of traditional reviews to setting up a highly effective and ongoing dynamic geared to building trust and fostering growth. 

Dave Ulrich articulated the shift in his book, Victory Through Organization: “The foundational assumption is that feedback is not a leader’s side-responsibility; it is the leader’s primary work.” Instead of thinking of a check-in as an isolated moment or a mini-performance review, consider it a touchpoint on the employee lifecycle; an interaction that’s part of an ongoing conversation. 

Frequency: Establish a cadence of check-ins that adapts to the circumstance, the context, and the nature of your work culture. Pre-COVID, our advice was to conduct check-ins around every 4 to 6 weeks. But these are uncertain times — and they call for increased communication that’s aligned and consistent with the organizational message, culture and values. The bottom line is that you can’t overcommunicate. 

Your check-ins can take various forms, from a regular update focused on clarification and feedback; to a more comprehensive appraisal of performance (emphasizing personal development and employee contribution); to a marker of key events, such as onboarding, a promotion, a secondment, or even the shift to remote. But don’t do away with ad-hoc check-ins either. Employees and managers should be able to simply initiate a check-in regardless of whether it’s on the calendar. 

Approachability: Both parties should remain open and responsive within the context of a check-in. But that hinges on successfully building that foundation of trust: trust must be in place first in order for both parties to commit effectively. For managers, that means creating a sense of trust in the first place. Two simple ways to build trust: first, make it clear that either the manager or the employee is free to request a check-in at any time, for any reason — whether a formal discussion or a quick catch up. Second, whatever is covered, make it a conversation, in which you combine a review of tasks with questions about overall state of mind, and give the employee plenty of room to answer. Listening to your team members reinforces the fact that check-ins are not an exercise in powerplay, but on the contrary, a forum for two adults to meet on equal terms. 

In my discussion with Meghan, she pointed out the value of flattening the expected hierarchy: “For employees who may be used to taking a passive role in their own professional development, check-ins change the game. Instead of receiving advice and feedback, they get to play a lead role in assessing and guiding their own development.” This means it’s incumbent upon employees to not just discuss how the work is going, but also focus on the direction they want to be heading in, and the skills they need to get there.This dynamic empowers employees, strengthening their performance and loyalty. 

Addressing the whole person: The manager needs to continually remind themselves that the check-in is not just about the job at hand. It’s not about a singular project. It needs to happen with an eye on the bigger picture, and the employee as a whole person, particularly right now. As well as addressing an employee’s performance and contributions, use the check-in time to reinforce a sense of social connection and foster the essential relationships we all need and depend on to work. 

Go beyond this, addressing any safety concerns the employee may have, which are so common as we navigate the minefield of COVID-19. Discuss the future in terms of a trajectory, not a fixed point, including what kinds of skills and behaviors need to be developed and supported. And use deeper questions to address aspects of wellness and health. Employers have a duty of care, and the more we all experience the integration of work and life, the more check-ins can play a helpful role.

Language: This is not just a matter of tone; it’s also a matter of clarity. Managers in particular need to focus on how to clarify and improve their language during check-ins, and be accountable for what you say as well as how to say it. What’s come to the fore during the shift to remote as well as the increased pressure on essential workers is that we need interactions that convey a clear perception of what is expected and how we are performing. 

That should seem a simple matter, but the nature of remote and hybrid working is that we’re communicating across multiple channels that may not deliver the same way as face to face. As Meghan pointed out, “Tone and language are more important than ever, and they’re harder to get right when we’re working virtually.” Managers should purposefully practice conducting check-ins until they’re comfortable enough that the action becomes a habit. 

Measuring the change: Effective check-ins offer two dimensions of measurable  impact over time. There’s the personal impact, or developmental path, and a business impact, or performance/contribution. Managers and leaders have a duty to effectively enable the workforce to achieve a high-high combination, in which both aspects see growth:

We’re been witnessing a sea change in how we work for a while. We’ve seen a shift to teams as the essential unit of operations, as opposed to individuals collected under a supervisor. We’ve seen a new emphasis on democratizing data. Further, there’s been a marked increase in the ability to work remotely. All have raised the bar on what constitutes a great work culture. The situation we find ourselves in now has put the onus on better communication overall, including how we provide feedback to employees, and even whether or not “providing” is the right term. We’re seeing the fruits of allowing both parties to be actively involved in feedback and reviews, and we’re seeing the benefits of grounding these conversations in trust and framing them as a continuing cycle rather than a rare event. 

Check-ins are a powerfully effective tool for inviting employees to own their own growth and contribution in your organization. They provide a means to build and maintain better manager-employee relationships, align around shared goals, and turn the workplace into a high-performing, engaged community.

This post is sponsored by MHR International.

Photo: Aleks Marinkovic

#WorkTrends: Aligning Around Performance Management: New Findings

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss an episode.

How, where, and when we work may have changed, but there still needs to be a way to manage performance. But do employees want that right now? Amid the uncertainty, the answer is yes. Employees are yearning for continuous feedback, according to a 2020 performance management benchmark report by Reflektive, which surveyed over 1,000 HR practitioners, business leaders, and employees. And the feedback process is bolstering the relationship between managers and employers. 

I invited Jennifer Toton, Chief Marketing Officer at Reflektive to #WorkTrends to shed light on this benchmark study and dig into some of the trends it reveals. But as Jennifer pointed out, what was surprising was what didn’t change. The formal process of performance management and the number of reviews are still intact, but the way we give and receive feedback has really evolved. “We saw a 90% increase in employees who want more formal feedback conversations on a monthly or more frequent basis.”  

Also compelling, to me, is that even in these times, employees have retained a sense of optimism. Many believe that six months from the time of the survey, business will remain as usual. A quarter believed they would learn more skills. Another quarter said they would feel proud of the work they accomplished, and about a fifth said that they will feel more productive. “Our employees are resilient and they’re adapting to the change,” added Jennifer. 

Much is up to the managers, though. They must be transparent in their communication, said Jennifer, particularly around salary freezes and pay cuts, as honesty feeds trust. In addition, 80% of employees said they were having regular meetings with their managers, and that they found the format was not only positive, but productive. 

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion, so I encourage you to have a listen for yourself. Got feedback? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter or on LinkedIn. (And make sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag so others in the TalentCulture community can follow along.)

 Twitter Chat Questions
Q1: Why do organizations struggle with performance management? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help improve performance management? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders refocus performance management for better results?  #WorkTrends

Find Jennifer Toton on Linkedin and Twitter

This podcast is sponsored by Reflektive.

(Editor’s note: This month, we’re announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)

Photo: Jose Mizrahi

#WorkTrends: Building Trust In Uncertain Times

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss an episode.

It’s safe to say uncertainty is universal these days. But how do we get past it and stay engaged in our work? Remember the T-word: trust. So I invited Iain Moffat, Chief Global Officer of MHR International, to #WorkTrends to share his best practices for building workplace trust during these uncertain times.

Iain said we need to be better listeners to be better communicators. And organizations really need to step up their game on this, and “address and communicate aspects around safety, the relationship, and the connected aspects of work,” he added. I wanted to know what else companies can do to enable their employees to trust them and feel trusted. 

Iain’s answer: make a conscious effort. Managers must regularly communicate, actively listen, and continue to work through the kinks of being remote and virtual. You only learn by doing, so start now. Treat trust as a collaboration. 

Here’s another straightforward way to build trust between managers and employees:  invest time in really checking in. Don’t just run a checkup. Regular check-ins can help employees stay motivated. Plus, it’s an opportunity to tackle deeper questions about where your organization is heading and how that employee fits into it all. Creating this sense of belonging can even lead to better employee performance. And besides, it makes everyone feel better.

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion, so I encourage you to have a listen for yourself. Got feedback? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter or on LinkedIn. (And make sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag so others in the TalentCulture community can follow along.)

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with building trust? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can boost trust and a sense of belonging remotely? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders overcome uncertainty and promote a sense of trust? #WorkTrends

Find Iain Moffat on Linkedin and Twitter

This podcast is sponsored by MHR International.

(Editor’s note: In August we’ll be announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)

Photo: mentatdgt

Cultivating Employee Trust in Today’s Workplace

Trust plays a role not just in employee recruitment and retention, but in everything from the benefits employers offer to their cultural norms. As leaders welcome Gen Z  into the workplace, they’re learning that this generation insists on transparency and trust in a way that prior ones simply did not.

Frankly, today’s employees have high expectations. Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer found that 73% expect to have the opportunity to help shape the future of society. The same percentage say they expect to be included in company planning. 

Evident among younger employees, in particular, are four trust-related trends:

1. Flexible work is becoming a table-stakes benefit. 

The giant leap that technology has made over the last decade means most employees are now able to work from home. Many now see that as a right rather than a privilege earned with trust.

According to FlexJobs, which leases coworking space to companies, 80% of the 7,300 surveyed workers said they’d be more loyal to their employer if it gave them flexible work options. More than half (52%) have attempted to negotiate such arrangements themselves.

It’s understandable that many employers are hesitant to give workers total freedom to work when and where they want. But technology — the very thing that has made this trend possible in the first place — can also be used to create accountability. Communication platforms like Slack show when workers are online, and time-tracking tools can ensure they spend their time in ways that are actually valuable to the company. 

2. Employers and employees are monitoring each other’s online activity.

It’s been true for some time that employees and employers research the other online before a hire is made. But now, they’re scouting each other’s social media accounts on a near-daily basis.

The question in many HR circles is no longer whether to hire someone because of past social media posts, but whether new ones might be worth firing someone over. And it’s no longer just illegal activity that raises eyebrows: Employees and employers are on the lookout for bigotry, culturally insensitive comments, and even relationships with questionable individuals. 

Make clear to employees that your company is watching, but do so in a positive, uplifting way. From brand accounts, interact with employees’ social profiles. Go ahead and share that post from a worker who just ran a 5K. If they ask for contractor recommendations for an upcoming roof repair, why not comment with a referral to someone who re-shingled the office?

3. Diversity is gaining attention as a professional-development advantage.

The broader the range of backgrounds a company has, the more its members can learn from one another. As people learn from each other, they build trust — gaining insights into their work and seeing the world from another’s perspective can strengthen ties. Tracey Grace, CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts, credits the company’s diverse workforce with “keeping the company fresh and me growing.”

SurveyMonkey data suggests that Gen Z employees understand this as well. Almost three times as many members of diverse companies told the pollster they plan to stay with their current employer for five years or more.

Reiterate that mentorship programs are open to everyone, and try to pair diverse mentors and mentees. Encourage women and members of racial minorities, in particular, to pursue growth in technical fields, where they’re often underrepresented. 

4. Workers aren’t waiting around for things to get better.

Employment tenures have been trending downward for years. Just 10% of Baby Boomers have left a job for mental health reasons. But according to a survey of 1,500 young people from Mind Share Partners, three-quarters of Gen Zers asked have done so.

Every role at every company will experience stress at some point. But while older generations could be trusted to tough it out at least for a few months, many younger workers react by immediately sharpening their resume.

Make company challenges an open conversation. Encourage workers to speak up if they are struggling. Be generous with support, whether through a part-time helper or additional development opportunities, when asked for it. 

Everywhere you look, distrust has redefined the ways employees and employers interact with one another. But many of the changes it’s produced are clearly not: Flexible work environments encourage people to work when and where they feel most comfortable. Growth opportunities can and should be given to everyone so they can both earn trust with others and extend trust in return. If distrust is what it takes to get to happier workplaces, then so be it. 

 

Live from UNLEASH America: Rachel Botsman on Why Trust Matters

This week, I’ve been in Las Vegas at UNLEASH America, soaking up big ideas about the latest HR tech trends and how technology is changing the way we work.

One of the speakers who knocked my socks off was Rachel Botsman. She is an author and visiting lecturer and researcher at the University of Oxford. Her keynote was all about trust, and why organizations need it to survive and thrive. Her new book is “Who Can You Trust?: How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart.” Here are the highlights Rachel shared in a conversation with media before her keynote.

How Technology Changes Everything

As technology has taken huge leaps forward, our expectations have taken an enormous leap, too, she says. Instead of just trusting technology to do something, we now have to trust technology to make decisions for us. That means we have to trust that the technology is competent and reliable, and we have to trust its intentions and its integrity. “How on earth do you trust the intentions of an algorithm?” she says. “That’s a huge problem. There’s an idea that we can outsource trust to an algorithm, but when an algorithm makes a decision we don’t agree with, who’s accountable? That’s the danger of outsourcing too much to machines. It becomes an issue of accountability when things go wrong.”

How to Measure Trust

When people consider whether a company is trustworthy, they consider a few key traits, she says:

  • Are they competent? Do they have the skills and the knowledge to do what they say they’re going to do?
  • Are they reliable? Are they consistent over time?
  • Are they benevolent? How much do they really care?
  • Do they have integrity? Do they have my best interests at heart?

Rachel says that some organizations are strong in all four areas, but “most organizations wobble around one trait, and when there is a trust crisis you really see that one trait break down.”

Plus, she says, it’s hard to measure trust because it’s extremely contextual. When you say, “I trust Amazon,” do you trust them because they deliver their packages on time? Or do you trust them to pay their taxes? Do you trust them to take care of their people? Any trust score is ultimately contextual, she says.

How to Regain Customers’ Trust

Rachel says companies can regain trust after a crisis. The key elements of a rebound are:

  • Responsiveness – Respond quickly.
  • Empathy – Acknowledge the human consequences of a mistake.
  • Accountability – Take ownership of the problem.
  • Assurance – Show people that the system and the culture has changed to avoid future crises.

“It’s easy to forget is that trust is a human process,” she says. “Technology cannot replace the way humans trust one another, and technology runs the risk of us giving our trust away too easily. The goal for any organization shouldn’t be more trust, it should be better-placed trust.”

#WorkTrends Recap: Leading from the Heart

“There are stories in the news left and right about the lack of integrity corporate leadership and government. But I knew there were good leaders out there. What does it look like if you’re leading from the heart?”

Shelly Francis is author of the new book “The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity,” which she wrote on behalf of the Center for Courage & Renewal.

The book is the result of years of research into what makes a great leader — and what happens when leaders live out their values. She interviewed 120 people about their journeys as leaders. She found that when people lead from their hearts, trying their best to stay authentic and self-aware, they build more trusting relationships.

Break Out of Fight-or-Flight Mode

In her research, Francis identified four common “F” responses: fight, flight, freeze and flock (that’s thinking about the world as “us versus them.”). But someone usually loses when we default to those stress responses.

So, she looked to a new “F” response: fortify. When you fortify yourself, you reflect and focus.

Find New Kinds of Courage

Francis started seeing a few patterns, common ways great leaders fortify themselves and lead more courageously. “We usually think about courage as physical courage — athletes, soldiers — or speaking out for justice,” she says. But there are other kinds of courage we see all the time but don’t name:

  • Social courage: Being vulnerable and authentic, and having the courage to connect across lines of difference. Brene Brown talks about social courage in her book “Daring Greatly.”
  • Creative courage: Creating conversations that matter, creating solutions and creating communities.
  • Collective courage: Coming together for the greater good, such as in social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Or like Elon Musk, inspiring his SpaceX engineers and people around the world to find new ways to think about space.

“All of those kinds of courage might seem elusive,” Francis says, “but you can access them by leading from the heart and having self knowledge.”

Cultivate Your Courage as a Leader

That all sounds amazing, but how do we get there? I asked Francis how leaders can develop their courage. How can we all grow as people and as leaders?

She says it’s all about starting with yourself — leading from within. “Get clear on your own values and who you are as a leader,” she says. Ask yourself:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want to bring to my work and my team? What do I want to contribute?
  • Are there places where I need to grow?

“That kind of reflection takes time, and it’s best done in a supportive place,” she says. She suggests journaling and having conversations with a trustworthy friend as good ways to start.

One of her favorite stories from the book is about a physician who was leading a major endeavor to build a new clinic. It was a big job and involved consolidating a lot of practices. The culture she started with came with a lot of hurt feelings and a lack of trust. As a leader, she started using poetry and metaphors during meetings as a way to get people to think outside the box. One day, she showed a video of a trapeze artist, flying through the air and feeling out of control, but knowing that there were safety nets below. The team used that metaphor to have conversations about how they were feeling, and they started to build trust over time.

Finally, it was time for the new building to open. When the week came, the IT systems were down and the sharps containers for needles hadn’t arrived. The leader worked late to make sure the building was safe for patients the next day. Later, she couldn’t sleep, so she started journaling. She asked herself: What is my role as leader in this time of excitement, chaos and disappointment?

She looked inward and realized that if she didn’t feel like going to work in the morning, her employees definitely wouldn’t.

So she wrote an email in the middle of the night to her team. She told everyone how grateful she was that they’d worked hard and come together, and referred back to that trapeze metaphor.

“She stepped back, breathed and thought about what she could contribute,” Francis says. “Writing that email to say thank you and encourage her team made everyone feel affirmed.”

Have Conversations as a Team

After you’ve looked inward and thought about your contributions as a leader, Francis suggests taking the conversation to your team. Ask each other:

  • Why are we here together?
  • What do we want to do?
  • Why is it important? What are our reasons for working here, beyond the paycheck?

“Maybe there’s a story from their childhood that inspired them to go into the work they’re in,” she says. “When we know those stories underneath and take the time to find out that level of humanity, we extend grace to each other more readily.”

Francis told me a story about a group of teachers who started off a workshop by talking about why they became teachers. That conversation allowed them to connect, and they then had an honest discussion about what they wanted to start doing and stop doing as a team. They all agreed that they wanted to start trusting each other and stop backbiting.

“Having conversations about what could be different gets everyone on board,” she says. “It’s not a single manager trying to figure it out, but everyone seeing their role in how things are or aren’t working.”

She says that this kind of open, courageous conversation is especially important for remote teams. She suggests using video calls so that the team can see each other, and she’s found that taking just a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to ask how everyone’s doing leads to more grounded, less scattered meetings. “Maybe you find out someone took their son back to college this weekend and they’re feeling a little down, or they have a cold, or it’s a beautiful day and the flowers are starting to bloom in their backyard. It’s amazing the difference you find when you take the time to connect heart-to-heart. When we can tap into our core selves and recognize each others’ true selves, trust starts to flow.”

“If we can get more people encouraging each other to find our true self, we’ll have better workplaces,” she says.

5 Ways to Earn Trust: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

Are you looking for that leadership silver bullet that will propel you past the competition? You can take public speaking courses and enroll in an MBA program or you can attempt the single easiest feat for which an individual can strive, trustworthiness.

Leadership is built on one core concept—trust. Without it, you can forgo every other attribute espoused by management experts. Confidence without trust is an egomaniac. Charisma without trust is a charlatan. And vision without trust is a hypocrite. This was supported by a meta-analysis study from leading trust researcher and Georgetown University professor Daniel McAllister.

Published in the Academy of Management Journal, McAllister concluded that leaders viewed as trustworthy generate a culture where team members:

  • display greater innovation, agility, and responsiveness to changing conditions;
  • take risks because they believe they will not be taken advantage of;
  • do not expend needless time, effort, and resources on self preservation; and
  • go above and beyond to exhibit higher performing customer service, brand loyalty, and problem solving.

This leads to a competitive advantage through significantly higher commitment, satisfaction, retention, and performance. Similarly, research from the Ken Blanchard Companies found a strong correlation between trust and the behaviors associated with highly productive employees—discretionary effort, willingness to endorse the organization, performance, and a desire to be a “good organizational citizen.”

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”—Stephen Covey

Before you get insulted that I’m explaining something as elementary as the benefits of trust, have you heard of the Edelman Trust Barometer? The ETB has surveyed tens of thousands of people across dozens of countries about their level of trust in business, media, government, and nongovernmental organizations. In its 17th year, this is the first time the study found a decline in trust across all four institutions in all 28 countries surveyed.

For leaders, one of the more disturbing findings of the ETB is the shocking lack of confidence in leadership—63% of participants said corporate CEOs are either not at all or somewhat credible. That means only 37% maintained the credibility of CEOs, a 12-point drop from last year, and this is consistent around the world. CEOs are more trusted than government leaders (29%), but that’s setting a pretty low bar. Plus, with this “trust void,” only 52% said they trust business to do what is right.

So if trust is important and society is not feeling it, what can we do? Good news: you can (re)build trust. Here are five techniques to consider:

  1. Recognition, Recognition, Recognition. To increases trust between leaders and employees, nothing does it faster than acknowledging their achievements. It indicates you are paying attention and reinforces positive behaviors.
  2. Show Compassion. Did I say recognition is the fasted way to build trust? It won’t mean anything if you don’t already have a foundation of respect. Just try influencing someone who doesn’t respect you; see how engaged they are in your ideas. Treat your team like real-life people—listen to their ideas, care about their feelings, and empathize with their concerns.
  3. Keep to Your Word. You can’t build trust without following through on promises. Your team needs to believe that what you say is sincere, so follow through on commitments.
  4. Don’t Hide Your Humanity. Being human means showing your imperfections. Your ability to discuss your mistakes and share what you have learned from it makes you more relatable. No one is concerned with transparency for the good stuff; they need you to fess up to faults, so show your vulnerable side.
  5. Smile. If you don’t want to do something substantive to build your trust and would prefer a gimmick, consider a recent study published in Psychological Science where convicted murders with trustworthy faces received more lenient sentences then their peers with untrustworthy faces. The key, it seems, is that a gentle smile increases how trustworthy others perceive you. Keep in mind, that it needs to be gentle—too big can be seen as duplicitous or insincere, while too small may be seen as sarcastic or leering.

“I doubt that we can ever successfully impose values or attitudes or behaviors on our children certainly not by threat, guilt, or punishment. But I do believe they can be induced through relationships where parents and children are growing together. Such relationships are, I believe, build on trust, example, talk, and caring.”—Fred Rogers

We live in untrustworthy times, but that does not mean we have to lead in an untrustworthy manner. Generate a culture where honesty, transparency, and truth are the basis of your organization. This must start at the top of the organizational hierarchy with you. The team will trust you once you establish that you trust the team. It may take time, but as Seth Godin says, “Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.”

7 Ways Managers Can Build Trust in the Workplace

How many people trust their managers? A recent study by Edelman found that one in three employees don’t trust their employer. Another study by EY found that number to be even lower, with only 46% having trust in their organization, and 49% in their boss/team. Trust is one of the most important things you need in the workplace. Without it you won’t have the environment you need for an effective feedback culture to grow. So how can you help close the trust gap between employees and managers?

  1. Honesty is the best policy

It may be hard to share difficult news sometimes. We naturally have a tendency to believe that delivering bad news will impact other people’s opinion of ourselves. In fact, a recent article by Forbes addressed a reader’s question about how to deal with a boss who lies to avoid answering difficult questions from employees.

Being honest, even during tough times, is something the most trustworthy leaders learn how to do. Whether your company hasn’t met its goals and is unable to award bonuses this year, or you’ve decided to let go of a member of your team. Rather than putting off the difficult talk, employees will respect a manager who is able to openly explain the situation, take questions and give them the facts.

  1. Admit mistakes

While being transparent about bad news is difficult, admitting when it’s you who’s made a mistake can be even more difficult. You may be surprised to find that employees will like you more for it. Admitting mistakes actually makes you more human and thereby more likeable to others. Psychologists call this the Pratfall effect. Being able to admit to and take responsibility for your mistakes is a major part of being a great leader.

  1. Treat employees like people, not numbers

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers. If your job is based on meeting certain performance metrics, managers can often get in the habit of seeing their employees in terms of output achieved.

Managers don’t have to be their employee’s best friend, but they should be conscious of maintaining a healthy work environment. Managers who encourage extreme competition between peers and late hours are going to end up creating a toxic work culture in which employees don’t trust their manager or each other.

You don’t have to know all the details of your employees’ personal lives, but managers should have a good understanding of what their employees enjoy about their job most. If you’re able to pick up on what your employee’s need to do their best, they’ll go the extra mile for you.

  1. Give credit to your employees

As the team leader, you will often receive recognition from your peers and upper management for your team’s efforts. Make sure you share appreciation and acknowledge your team members for their hard work. A recent study by Globoforce showed that employees who received recognition from their leaders recently were significantly more likely to trust them (82% vs 48%).

  1. Put yourself on the line for your team

To gain trust, managers must be their team’s best advocate. While inwardly you may have constructive feedback for your team about the way they approached an assignment, outwardly you must be willing to praise, advocate and take responsibility for your team’s actions. When team members make a mistake it may seem common sense to distance one’s self. This may maintain your reputation, but it won’t win you your team’s trust. This is a difficult balance that each manager will have to maintain on their own, but having a team that is highly committed to you will help you achieve the results you want in the long run.

  1. Teach your managers how to overcome bias

It’s not that managers are inherently biased, as people we have a natural tendency to make assumptions about others. This can result in managers unintentionally favoring some employees over others, known by psychologists as the ‘rater bias’. Unconscious bias contributes to a major loss in trust between managers and employees, especially when it affects performance reviews. Help managers learn how to identify and avoid bias in the workplace.

  1. Make yourself vulnerable. Ask for feedback.

Trust isn’t the magic key to workplace bliss. Issues will always arise at work, but closing the trust gap means employees will be more likely to really take on and reflect on feedback from their managers and be more honest when they give upward feedback. As more and more employees are publicizing their complaints about their employer on Glassdoor, you want a workforce that feels free and comfortable to express concerns before they boil over onto the internet.

But to gain this type of trust, managers must first demonstrate they’re willing to open themselves up to criticism. If they truly start to put themselves out there and ask for employee feedback, their reports will recognize this and start to follow their example.

A version of this post was first published on impraise.com.

Photo Credit: New Routes Real Estate via Compfight cc

4 Ways To Define Trust In The New World Of Work

It’s no big revelation that trust is the gas the drives the car when it comes to relationships; without it, you may roll to a dismal halt. Families depend on it; marriages are built on it. Pretty much any kind of partnership requires it, and without, the foundation of nearly any relationship is seriously weakened. It’s no different at work. But defining trust in the workplace it is a little different.

The meaning of trust hasn’t shifted. But the nature of how trust functions has. How? Geographically, demographically, even culturally, how we view trust and what it means has evolved, as have the rituals we use to build it. The same kinds of activities that might have raised eyebrows and closed ranks in the past can have the opposite effect now.

1) Accept that innovation will happen.

There’s a great lesson to be learned from Uber (again): how a rogue group of employees bypassed the workflow channels to create a new product. Since there was no time to bring a new idea (hashed out during an after-hours “jam session) to life during regular business hours, they created and organized it during a two-day workathon over the weekend. Was it elitist? Nope. Part of the impromptu quick-start of the product was that it could not be without the input of everyone in a range of departments and across functions. It was an open-minded, “Hey, how can we do this?” approach. Is this sneaky? Not if it’s part of company culture.

2) Value individual autonomy.

Studies like Deloitte’s on culture and employee engagement found that 87 percent of organizations surveyed cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. And 12 percent of employees are more motivated by work passion than career ambition — a number that will surely rise. The new workplace has to include self-motivation as a driving force behind employee engagement — which means (no matter the geography, whether digital or physical) that employees are given the freedom to grow, learn, and push themselves. The give stems from a workplace that trusts its talent. Companies that don’t weave this into their own culture are risking a higher rate of attrition than those who do.

3) Admit that humans have emotions.

Trust is not just a marketing slogan or a word on money. Lack of trust can dredge up a storm of emotions in anyone, from a spouse to an employee. Yes, we should all try to take the high road, as my colleague and friend Tamara McCleary points out. But in the workplace, the onus is with management to be able to lead with emotional intelligence. If an employee has an issue and it’s bungled due to some expectation of acting professional, at least these two things will happen: 1) resentment and 2) opacity.

4) Understand that we need to be friends.

A recent survey showed that groups of friends were able to perform tasks and make decisions better than a group of strangers. In terms of teamwork, being friends does indeed keep the car moving. But if we’re increasingly isolated due to changing work environments, far more telecommuting, shorter expected stints with an employer, and a host of other factors, how can we forge productive, inspiring, team-building friendships? We might take a cue from companies who make employee interaction and activities an active part of workplace culture.

Which once again, leads me back to that exercise in cooperation, the Google CoBike — that on-campus, multi-seated bicycle, which by now is part of Silicon Valley lore. If you want people to feel valued, work together, and trust each other, then make sure your workplace values people above all else. Trust will work wonders where nothing else will: increase engagement, productivity, communication, and decrease attrition. Trust me on this one.

Image credit : Shutterstock

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 12/12/15

5 Leadership Toys For The Multigenerational Workplace Sandbox

The multigenerational workforce; you’ve heard about it. There are about six generations that live in America today – three to five of which are in the workplace, with another set to enter within ten years. You’ve probably heard most about Generations X (30-50 years of age) and Generation Y (Millennials, 11-29), with the occasional reference to Baby Boomers (51-68), the group arguably hit hardest by the recent Great Recession.

Please note that these age brackets vary from resource to resource but this gives you the general gist. Thanks to a global economy which stubbornly refuses to improve in any meaningful way for many anxious holders of 401Ks, we’re unlikely to see Baby Boomers retiring at rates previously expected.

The short story is this: at least three generations can be found in most workplaces, which not only is a potential source of workplace friction, but also a real puzzle for leaders, HR, brand marketers and talent management pros looking to humanize brands.

It’s really not something we can afford to ignore.

This shift in the meaning of brand is seismic, as they say. Where my parents bought a car for the brand’s reputation, and I wouldn’t buy a car for any one reason, my niece might buy a car if its infotainment system is seamlessly synchronized with her Bluetooth and iPhone (or Android).

For Millennials, brands must have social capability and social identity, or allow the individual to use the brand’s product in a social context. For Gen X, the brand must be multinational. And for Boomers, well, snob appeal still works – one measure of brand reputation. Note: I’m a Gen-Xer and I sometimes want each of these offerings above so it can be misleading to go on statistics alone. Honestly, I often think stereotyping generations can be very limiting in this way but it’s useful to gain a macro-perspective on just how much the world of work is transforming now.

In workplace brands, as with multigenerational teams, a lot of adaptation and flexibility is called for if success is the goal. As I wrote last week, Brand Humanization is of increasing importance. This holds for workplace brands as a well. If you’re a CEO, HR person or a hiring manager for new and retained talent, you’re probably wondering how to keep the wheels on the bus with three, potentially five, age groups on staff.

Here are five suggestions to keep your workplace and leadership brand aligned with the needs of three or four very different groups of workers:

1) Relevance: For all groups of workers, work must be relevant. This matters for someone who’s 60 as much as it does for a 23-year-old, although the meaning of ‘relevant’ might be different for each. Leaders always need to communicate a task’s relevance. If a task is relevant, it will make the brand relevant too.

2) Accountability: Some people are accountable by nature. They’re performers. Lots of other people have to be made accountable. A lot has been written about the lack of accountability in Millennials, but I think it’s more a question of communications again: leaders must be very clear about what it means to be accountable in the workplace. A 45-year-old may see his or her work as contributing to the bottom line, a 25-year-old may see it as a task and miss the big picture, and a 60-year-old may see a task as a dead end. Leaders have to show everyone why everything they do in the workplace counts and helps build a good brand. Mind, employees have a responsibility to look beyond themselves too, but that’s a topic for another day.

3) Motivation: First cousin of accountability and relevance, motivation can be a mystery for a leader. A conventional boss may see a paycheck as sufficient motivation, while a strategic leader will see motivation as the key to a productive workplace. Taking the time to understand what motivates workers is a huge investment, but it’s absolutely necessary. Unmotivated workers won’t care about the brand, and that’s the first step down the path to brand destruction.

4) Trust: As the work world becomes increasingly driven by social media and social technologies, trust becomes more important. Old-school companies and leaders may think trust is embodied in a paycheck, but it’s not. Trust is earned, like respect. Workers who trust management will also trust the brand.

5) Emotional connection: I’m a big proponent of the workplace value of Emotional Intelligence. The leader with emotional intelligence understands the need for an emotional connection with everyone in the workplace. No, you don’t have to be best friends, but you do have to be sensitive and aware to the emotional tenor of the workplace. Ignore emotional connection and no one will care about your brand, or your workplace.

Can we all just be happy in the multigenerational workplace? Not all the time, certainly, but it will be much more achievable if you’ve taken the time to humanize your brand. Your workforce will be a community, just like in real life, where the players are all at different stages but are working to stay more or less in synch with one another. The alternative? Look around you at the dead or dying brands, the legions of un- or underemployed and the dispossessed.

Attracting and retaining talent takes a lot of work and persistent effort to be better. So please get to it and start thinking about being a human leader.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes on 3/23/2014

Photo Credit: Knoll Inc via Compfight cc

5 Warnings for Leaders: Brand Humanization Is Not A Social Media Fad

Notice how hard brands and company leaders are fighting for your attention lately? They’re trying Brand Humanization; to position products and services to appeal to consumers, de-position the competition’s (very similar) stuff, and a million other tactics. But has it worked? Do brands truly appeal to you at a human level? Maybe not in many, many cases just yet.

But they’re trying. One indicator is brands’ efforts with Trust Marketing. Spending as much time on Twitter and other social media channels as I do, I can see why. Trust is necessary if we are to think of brands in human terms.

Brand Humanization sounds like old school marketing spin, but it’s not.

Humanizing brands is more than marketing – it’s a necessity in a world where social media can sweep aside positioning and branding in a heartbeat.

After many years spent consulting with leaders at software technology companies to help them attract talent, I have come to believe Brand Humanization holds answers on how to move business forward in a ‘meh’ economy. Brand Humanization does this by emphasizing community and storytelling, which are powerful tools with which leaders can develop and nurture workplace culture.

As a big believer in the power of personality and culture fit, which, as it turns out, is a first cousin of Brand Humanization, I’ve worked with companies as they try to align workplace culture and brand. This usually takes place when they’re trying to recruit top talent. The executive team gathers to concoct a brand statement to describe the culture of the company with the goal of making the company appealing to candidates.

But this gets things exactly backwards.

Why? Because defining workplace culture and corporate brand is the front end of the recruitment process. Waiting to think about workplace culture and brand until you need to recruit new talent is like closing the barn door after the horses have left.

A company’s culture can ensure the success of its business objectives and its most valuable asset: Human Capital. AKA Human Beings, People.

To humanize a brand, you first must ensure the corporate culture is robust enough to sustain the good will of employees, your brand ambassadors. People’s stories and personalities inform your corporate culture, so it pays to make sure your workplace culture supports your employees and aligns with your brand.

Let’s look at five reasons why Brand Humanization is important and not a Social Media Fad:

1) Brand Humanization leverages the power of networks of people – to help tell stories about your brand and company culture.

These stories make your business interesting and compelling to consumers, employees, and investors. Each of your employees belongs to many networks – friends, families, business associates and so on. If you let people bring their humanity to your brand, they’ll also bring your brand into their networks. That’s a form of reach money can’t buy.

2) Brands which have been humanized attract and sustain communities of real live people.

Brand communication is not a one-way channel, these communities are critical to brand survival. Apple is a great example here. Go hang out at your local Apple store next weekend – it will be filled with people drawn in by the power of that brand, which is all about building technology to serve people.

3) Communities are groups of people who share interests and intent.

People join social communities because they have a purpose, an intent, and communities let them act on their intent. They are looking for a place to be (Facebook), a place to learn (Google +, Pinterest), a place to interact (Twitter). Communities are critical to crowdsourcing excitement about brand, which translates to brand value. Levi’s rises to the top here. Take a close look at what they have accomplished via social media channels.

4) Trust is the key to Brand Humanization. Trust creates value; it’s why people become attracted to your brand.

Social communities must trust your brand; if they don’t, they can easily destroy it. In order to humanize a brand, you must first assess your ‘trust quotient’ before turning to social communities to promote or socialize your brand. Look into Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s past work on Trust Economies for more. Trust is everything in Brand Humanization, and it comes before interaction with communities of employees and consumers.

5) Social interaction drives other behaviors.

It foreshadows brand involvement, it is the front-end of buying decisions, and it lets people tell authentic, engaging stories about your brand. Get this right, or the stories won’t be engaging and you’ll be forced into damage control mode. Be careful, though, not to think presence on Twitter or Facebook is the equivalent of social interaction. Many brands assume they’re in two-way conversations on these channels, but when you take the time to dig into traffic, very few real bi-directional discussions are taking place. This goes back to trust – only when you’ve humanized your brand enough to gain the trust of your communities will you see two-way communication on most social channels. It’s like SETI – you have to keep the channel open in the hopes of hearing back.

Brand Humanization builds on trust, community and social interaction and doubles down to create a powerful tool to sustain your brand and interact with your brand ambassadors (employees), consumers and prospects. Think about humanizing your brand, and do it soon.

A version of this post was first published on forbes.com on 5/8/2012

Photo Credit: chrisinplymouth via Compfight cc

Photo: Celpax

Increase Employee Engagement by Making Them Feel Valued

Smart leadership realizes that to increase employee engagement and productivity across their workforce you must look beyond salary, benefits, and an occasional free pizza. Today’s employees want to feel valued.

A savvy manager knows that today’s employees (not just Millennials) place a high emphasis on being:

  • Important to the team.
  • Entrusted with information.
  • Empowered to make a difference.
  • Provided cooperative feedback and mentorship.
  • Given appropriate recognition and reward.

A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported the following comparisons of those who feel valued against those who don’t:

  • Those who report feeling valued by their employer are significantly more likely to be motivated to do their very best (93 percent vs. 33 percent).
  • They are also more likely to recommend their workplace to others (85 percent vs. 19 percent).
  • Those who do not feel valued are significantly more likely to seek new employment within 12 months (50 percent vs. 21 percent).

Statistically, more than nine out of 10 of employees who feel valued will channel those emotions into an enthusiasm and drive for maximum productivity and quality. So everyone wins.

The following suggestions will help you and your managers express your appreciation for your employees’ value to the organization:

Discover Their Motivations

Don’t assume you know what makes someone tick and don’t make yourself the reference point for others. People like different things:

  • Some like public recognition, while others prefer a personal thank-you.
  • Some want more responsibility for a job well done, while others simply want more of what they have received in the past.
  • Some want a day off to spend time with family, while others prefer a $100 gift card for the local electronics store.

When you connect with someone on a personal level the trust and respect factors increase exponentially—as does the desire to perform at an even higher level.

Participate in Proactive and Frequent ‘Two-Way’ Feedback

Without regular feedback and direction, employees will form assumptions of how they are performing to meet business needs. These may be inaccurate assumptions. Encourage your managers and employees to meet at least every two weeks to discuss the ideas, successes, challenges, and any other concerns they may have.

When you’re giving feedback, try to avoid phrases like “You should” or “Why don’t you?” since you may sound like you are laying blame. Instead, invite feedback from the other party (see what we are doing here) by asking something like “What needs to happen so we can …?”

Remember, clumsy wording can ruin well-intentioned feedback whereas thoughtful communication can advance even a sticky situation. In the end, feedback is not just about being honest … it’s about being honest skillfully.

Additionally, if you are the person receiving feedback, it is important to remember that your manager or colleague has come to you because of their perception of how something has transpired. Even if you don’t agree with what that person is saying, try not to get defensive. Instead, engage in dialogue by saying something like “I appreciate you bringing this to me so let’s try and walk through this in more detail.”

Inform and Empower

Almost everyone wants to hear and to be heard. One only has to skim through any social media platform, listen to talk radio, or participate in fantasy sports leagues to witness this.

At all times (without breaking any corporate confidentiality rules), inform and empower your employees. Quell the rumors and keep your team abreast of organizational and departmental happenings. The water cooler and rumor mill are two places that breed mistrust and kill productivity.

If you don’t already have a formal mechanism to solicit concerns from your team (and I am NOT talking about an annual engagement survey), change that. Find out what the concerns are–at least on a quarterly basis. Then, collate the information quickly, identify key areas for improvement, and empower your employees to make those improvements. When you make people feel important, show that their input is vital, and emphasize that they are part of a team that strives for continuous development … you will find success.

When employees feel valued, their sense of self-worth and self-esteem increases. This increased sense of self-worth and self-esteem are key drivers in building loyalty, morale, and greater efforts. The teams will work more collaboratively, harness their differences, develop great working relationships, and ultimately raise the culture and productivity at the local and enterprise levels.

Facebook: When Trust Is Exploited

In 2014, Facebook came under fire after a study was published revealing that the social network was doing research on some users that use its platform. It was not only ugly the way in which Facebook conducted the research, but the assumptions the researchers made about the average user’s willingness to be emotionally manipulated were chilling.

In the study, “Experimental Evidence Of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks”, researchers Adam Kramer, Jamie Guillory and Jeffrey Hancock manipulated the news feeds of nearly 700,000 Facebook users. The goal was to see if manipulating news feeds could lead to what the researchers termed “emotional contagion.” Spoiler alert: the answer is yes.

The trust issues here are huge and point to the importance for all of us, all the time, to read those pesky Service and Data Use Policies so many web services throw on the screen with an “I read and accept the terms of this agreement” button on the first page of what is clearly going to be a lengthy document.

From a workplace perspective the issue is equally fraught. It’s standard policy now for employers to make employment contingent upon the candidate signing a variety of documents, including intellectual property assignments, social-media use agreements and non-compete agreements. There’s very little trust in the work world. Nevertheless, it is essential for employers to establish a work community where trust is a guiding principle and a shared responsibility.

One area where trust between employers and employees has visibly frayed is in the use of personal electronic devices cell phones, laptops and tablets, among other gadgets used in the workplace. For a small company it may not be a problem but many large, public and financial services companies either don’t allow employees to bring their own devices or make employees sign agreements to put security software on the device, agree to certain patterns of use and allow the company not to monitor employee data and wipe the device. A survey by Harris Interactive (sponsored by Webroot) had a number of interesting findings about the “bring your own device” policy, and its affects on trust. Three data points from the press release announcing the survey results are worthy of repeating, the first two from an employee point of view and the third from an employer’s perspective (these are taken verbatim from the release):

Nearly half say they would stop using their device(s) for work altogether if corporate policy required that they install a security app on personal devices used for work purposes

Employers being able to access employees’ personal data emerged as the top worry, with a majority describing themselves as either extremely concerned or very concerned about this

73 percent agree that employees should have some influence on software or security installed on personal devices used for work. The report is interesting, as is the infographic, and well worth a look.

I’ve argued here that trust is essential, and also a key component of influence. Others maintain that influence is unnecessary if there is a strong foundation of trust. I’m not convinced. In my work with employees, candidates and employers, I see trust and influence as having a reciprocal and constantly evolving relationship. Thus it is critical for employers to treat their employees as trusted partners in the enterprise. And it is critical for employees to be trustworthy and ethical, to maintain the employer’s trust.

On a practical level this is tremendously difficult. Businesses are not always trustworthy or ethical (Enron anyone?), nor are individual employees (um, Edward Snowden?). Trust is, then, a work in progress, something that requires a daily investment from all parties. How do you forge that link? By building a workplace culture that insists on, and rewards, trust. Can this be done with social media tools? Maybe.

Many workplaces don’t have a real-time “feed” of news and sentiment from all employees. Some may use wikis, blogs or enterprise software apps such as Yammer. Even those enterprises with robust Intranets, wikis and Yammer may not have the social listening skills necessary to watch the flow of information and interpret it correctly without violating the trust or misinterpreting the intent of the participants. One friend, for example, worked for a large multi-national company that used Yammer in an attempt to build a culture of trust and communication. But the company had proved itself untrustworthy in other ways, and few participated.

Trust can be breached early, often and sometimes both. Once the break happens it’s difficult to fix. So I’d argue don’t turn to social-media tools first to build trust in the workplace. Begin by building relationships, insisting on authenticity and acting quickly to head off conflicts that can erode trust.

As a leader in your company, let your employees know you trust them by giving them responsibility. This is the cornerstone of a culture of trust. And if you are an employee, work everyday to honor that commitment to you and earn trust anew. If you are fortunate enough to work within a workplace culture of trust, do everything possible to build on that foundation.

A version of this post was first published on entrepreneur.com on July 3, 2014

photo credit: OnePlus installing via photopin (license)

#TChat Preview: The Power of Relationships from Bedroom to Boardroom

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about a few of our favorite #TChat shows, and this week we’re going to talk about the power of relationships—from the bedroom to the boardroom!

One of the most critical elements of any relationship is trust. Couples who build a strong sense of trust are happier than those who don’t. Following the same concept, people in trustworthy work relationships have proven to be more productive and have better connections with their co-workers.

Business leaders, including HR, must inspire trustworthy relationships since they’re responsible for internal customers: decreasing attrition, increasing employee engagement, decreasing sick days, increasing productivity, enhancing communication between departments, tearing down silos, and so much more.

How can we create a more trustworthy work environment for all our relationships, one that leads to a sphere of greater happiness, connectivity, and productivity?

#TChat Events:The Power of Relationships from Bedroom to Boardroom

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 16 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about the power of relationships from the bedroom to the boardroom with this week’s guest: Tamara McCleary, an internationally recognized expert on relationships and conscious business.

 Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Dec 16 — 1 pm ET

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wednesday, December 16— 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT
Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. We invite everyone with a Twitter account to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What obstacles make trust-building difficult in today’s workplace? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How can biz leaders and HR create more trustworthy work environments? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How do cooperative business relationships actually impact the business? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

Subscribe to our podcast on BlogTalkRadio, Stitcher or iTunes:

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Building Trust In The Workplace

Trust in the workplace is more important than ever as it drains productivity and eventually leads to costly turnover

Many experts agree that trust is perhaps the most important element of a successful workplace. Companies whose employees trust them tend to have a more engaged workforce and a high efficiency work environment. On the flip side, organizations that have lost employee trust are not as successful. It is not uncommon in times of economic distress for trust to be lost with employers, government and our fellow man. This was seen during the depression of the 1930’s and it is being seen again with the current global economic situation. The meltdown on Wall Street has exposed many stories about executive greed, non-ethical behaviors and decisions. Government has made attempts to encourage corporate integrity by passing legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Dennis Reina and Michelle Reina, authors of numerous books on this topic, contend major betrayals in the workplace from corporations grossly mismanaging worker layoffs to CEOs committing crimes and misdemeanors. While these events make headlines, other betrayals such as finger-pointing or taking credit for others’ work erodes trust over time. In addition, their research indicates “90% of employees report they feel the effects of eroded trust daily.” In 2010, Deloitte LLP conducted an Ethics & Workplace survey which showed the following:

    • 30% of American employees plan to look for a job when the economy turns around
    • 48% of the group mentioned above cite a loss of trust in their employer as the reason
    • 65% of Fortune 1000 executives believe trust will be a factor in voluntary employee turnover in the near future

There are many factors that can erode employees trust in their company’s leaders, and the experts agree one of the biggest factors is communication. This includes not being open or honest with employees, especially when there is “bad news,” not sharing information such as why a decision was made, and speaking and/or acting inconsistently. In addition to communication, lack of accountability and abuse of management status are also given by employees as a reason for loss of trust. Organizations that have a low level of trust for management tend to have low productivity rates. D. Keith Denton, Department of Management at Missouri State University, states “that it is essential for companies that wish to survive economic strife to create an atmosphere of trust in these untrusting times.” You may ask at this point what can we do to not only avoid losing trust, but how can we build trust with our employees?

The ability to build and maintain trust in an organization starts at the very top and then must be fostered through the rest of the company. Management must set the example and the standard for all employees to follow. Integrity is crucial to building an environment of trust in any relationship, including those between an organization and its employees on every level. Excellent and open communication also very crucial in the development of trust; employees must know the company’s vision and its plan to achieve the vision. This type of communication includes sharing information (including negative information), which should not be minimized. Employees should be considered and treated as equals in the company to foster a sense of community, and all ideas should also be considered equally. Employers should also be able to empathize with their employees, as it is hard to trust someone who cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Employees also very much appreciate when a company leader can own up to a mistake they have made. Employers that take the time and care to develop trust in their organization will reap the rewards.

Apply Now

(About the Author: Michele O’Donnell joined the team in January 2007 and currently leads MMC’s elite team of HR Consultants. Ms. O’Donnell has been involved in the Human Resources industry for more than 14 years, bringing vast training and management experience to the MMC leadership ranks. Her experience spans the broad scope of labor law, regulatory compliance and HR Best Practices, drawn from her rich experience as Director of HR for several firms throughout her career. She currently works to ensure that MMC’s consultants forge long lasting relationships with our clients, fostered in exceptional service and unsurpassed HR expertise. Ms. O’Donnell earned her baccalaureate degree in Business Administration from Auburn University before receiving her Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University.)

 
photo credit: citirecruitment via photopin cc

 

Leaders: Is Your “Work” Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

(Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Leaders: Is Your "Work" Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

(Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Managerial Magnets: Becoming A Leader Others Want To Follow

Written by Roberta Matuson

Are you a manager who’s ready for a professional breakthrough? Then it’s time to become the kind leader people will do anything to work for. The kind of leader who draws others to you. It’s time to become a magnetic leader.

Contrary to popular belief, great leaders aren’t born that way. Most are developed, coached and mentored throughout their careers. But why wait for someone else to guide you? Magnetic role models are all around us. So, no matter what your title or level of experience, you can observe more closely and strengthen your own skill set anytime.

Here are 5 best practices to help you get started:

1) Put Your Team First

When in doubt, put the interests of your employees ahead of your own. For example, it’s tempting to volunteer your department to organize this year’s charity event. After all, it would be great PR for you and the rest of your team. But everyone has been working on weekends to complete a critical project on time and within budget. They’re already burned out.

This is a good time to take a pass. Your team needs a break. Let them recharge. There will always be other volunteer opportunities.

2) Go to Bat for Your Employees

Let’s say you’ve been discussing a potential reorganization with your superiors. However, upon reflection, you believe the timing isn’t right for your organization to make that move. You feel uncomfortable asking your manager to reconsider the current plan.

Be bold. Let your boss know you’ve had a change of heart. Explain your rationale, and be prepared to offer alternative solutions. Regardless of the outcome, your employees will eventually figure out that you had the courage to push back when others would have retreated. Those who walk through the fire with you will stick by your side through thick or thin.

3) Learn to “Manage Up”

In my book, Suddenly in Charge, I explain that managing up isn’t about brown-nosing. It’s about developing strong relationships with those above you and throughout the organization, so you can get your people the resources they need to perform well.

In every company, there are people who are somehow able to get what they need while everyone else waits on the sidelines. These people have taken the time to build strong relationships up and down the organization. You can bet these resourceful leaders have no problem keeping top talent on their team. Observe how they work — and if an opportunity presents itself, ask for some tips.

4) Make Yourself Visible and Accessible

Magnetic leaders are visible both inside and outside their organization. Get involved in a professional association. Whenever possible, step up and volunteer to take a leadership position. You’ll be seen as a leader in your field, based on that affiliation. Don’t be surprised if others come to you seeking advice or a position on your team.

5) Treat People the Way You’d Like to be Treated

I bet you’ve heard this one before, right? It seems so obvious — but when is the last time you saw someone in a managerial role who consistently follows this creed?

In my book, Talent Magnetism, I tell the story of magnetic leader, Chris Patterson, CEO of Interchanges, who took it upon himself to help an employee who was in crisis. Patterson made it his personal mission to provide his employee with the best care possible during a life-threatening illness. He did so with compassion and conviction. This is a guy who is magnetic in every way.

Magnetic leaders are highly valued by their organizations — and are compensated accordingly. But it’s not just a reward for their effort and contributions to corporate objectives. Their employers know that leaders who display these characteristics are highly attractive to competitive organizations.

Do you know role models who demonstrate the value of magnetic leadership? What do they do that makes them so attractive to others in their professional sphere? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments area.

Roberta-Matuson-Photo(About the Author: Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer®, is the President of Matuson Consulting, a firm that helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. Her new book, Talent Magnetism, is available for download or purchase at Amazon.com. Connect with Roberta on Twitter or on LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Rebecca Krebs via Flickr

Can You Hear Me Now? Influence Goes Social #TChat Recap

“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions.”
–John Hancock

Wherever you find people, you’ll find influence. The concept is as basic as civilization, itself.

John Hancock understood its importance in business contexts. But as business moves to the digital space, the way we gain, use and respond to influence is shifting into overdrive. How does this digitally-enhanced version of influence affect the way we engage and motivate others across organizations and in the world at-large? And why should it matter to everyone in today’s workplace? These questions were top-of-mind this week at #TChat Events, as the TalentCulture community welcomed two influence experts:

Mark Fidelman, author of the book, Socialized!, and CEO of RaynForest, an influencer marketplace;
Mark Willaman, Founder and President of Fisher Vista LLC, owners of HRmarketer software and Fisher Vista marketing services

(Editor’s Note: See #TChat Twitter slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Defining Social Influence

What is a “social influencer” anyway? If a static persona accumulates social media followers, is that enough? Or is it about behavior that attract the attention and interest of professional peers? Is it when your presence (or absence) affects the nature and flow of conversations on social channels? Or is it when you write blog posts that draw an extraordinary number of readers and comments?

Of course, it can involve all of these elements and more. Effective influencers use social tools as a means to an end. It’s not just about building an audience. It’s about engaging and interacting with people in ways that leave them enthused, passionate, and eager to tell others about that experience. As word spreads about influencers, word also spreads about their company, product or service.

Social Influence In Action

Take a look at some of today’s most prominent business influencers — people like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. They really put the “social” in social media. Unlike “image-first” personalities like the Gagas and Biebers of the world — social influencers invest in real community connections and conversations.

It’s smart to focus first on quality rather than quantity. (What would you prefer — 100 engaged industry peers, or 100,000 random followers, who may not even care about you or what you represent? Where can you add value, and get value in return? I would pick 100 targeted connections with whom I can have purposeful interactions. If those interactions create a gravitational pull that expands my sphere of influence, then I’ve done something right. As someone mentioned last night at #TChat — don’t be mislead into thinking that it’s a quick process.

Why Should We Care?

I think of social influencers as “go-to” resources. When I want advice or inspiration, I turn to my network. These are trusted professionals, and use their influence for broader purposes than self-promotion. They build relationships based on integrity, transparency, vulnerability and humor — all the best traits we look for in humans. No doubt that’s why TalentCulture CEO, Meghan Biro, encourages everyone to “live your brand.” It’s the most unique, powerful asset any of us can offer.

Social media is an extraordinary tool that helps us establish immediate connections with business leaders, employees, customers, stakeholders and others. It can provide companies with valuable insight about market perceptions. It can be a powerful force that shapes business brands, cultures and communities — if organization are willing to show up, listen and participate. This is where leaders can make a difference. Committing to an active social presence is the first step toward empowering employees and customers as brand ambassadors. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Social Influence as a Competitive Advantage

Publication1

See the videos in the Preview Post now…

SAT 11/2:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured brief “sneak peek” hangout videos with our guests. Read the Preview: “The Rise of Influence in Social Business.

SUN 11/3:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested why and how modern leaders should invest in a social media presence. Read: “7 Traits of Highly Influential Leaders.

TUE 11/5:

Related Post: Guest blogger Paul Bailey helped us look at influence from the outside-in, with advice for job seekers on using social media intelligence to get hired. Read: “How Social Sleuthing Can Land You A Dream Job.

WED 11/6:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Mark Willaman and Mark Fidelman how social media is transforming the concept of influence in today’s world of work. Fascinating stuff! Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire TalentCulture ommunity on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open conversation focused on 5 key questions. For highlights, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Competitive Advantage of Social Influence

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-the-competitive-advantage-of-socia-1.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mark Willaman and Mark Fidelman for sharing your insights on the evolving meaning and importance of influence in the social era. Your knowledge and experience are invaluable to our community.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about influence-related issues or opportunities? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we take a closer look at how the social/mobile/cloud revolution is redefining the entire hiring process. So save the date (November 13) for another powerful #TChat double-header!

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why

(Editor’s Note: Want to learn more from Meghan about employee engagement strategies? Join a special #TChat webinar on November 7th, with Virgin Pulse president David Coppins. Register now …)

Late last year, I had an eye-opening experience while visiting a high-tech industry client.

Their office space is very cool. At first glance, it’s exactly what we expect from organizations with edgy, innovative brand personalities. But on second thought, something seemed to be missing.

The design is full-on open concept — rows of modular worktables, very low partitions, no private offices. As I looked across this vast bullpen, I couldn’t help wondering how people find a useful corner for a private one-on-one conversation, a quick team huddle, or an escape from distractions when it’s time to concentrate and actually get things done. This just doesn’t feel like a fully functioning workplace, where people can be productive throughout the day.

What’s Wrong With This Engagement Picture?

Of course, there’s a large, sunny cafeteria and a designated gaming area, complete with foosball table. That clearly helps seal the deal with new recruits, right? Well, perhaps I’m a bit jaded, but something about this hip, techie environment seems more like the year 2000 to me, when business managers decided that in-house cafes and communal work areas were the recipe for a happy, high-performance workforce.

Even now, part of me remains unconvinced. Why?

As a talent strategist, I work with many organizations whose primary staffing requirements focus on “thinking” jobs in the software development realm. Top performers in these positions typically want and need time, space, peace and quiet to perform well.

Sure, they collaborate with team members. And they love games and free coffee, soda and popcorn — who doesn’t? But these perks aren’t some sort of “secret sauce” that produces employee engagement. Employers may hope that games, food and wide open spaces guarantee happy, productive employees, but that’s not how it works.

Engagement is forged with different tools — trust, loyalty, open communication, clearly-articulated goals and expectations, shared values and well-understood reward systems. It really isn’t about how the office is designed, or how many toys you offer as distractions. It’s about treating employees as humans who are worthy of respect.

When companies like the one I visited tell me that their workplace culture and trendy furniture build employee engagement, I try to help them see that they’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. They’re focusing on what, not why. The “what” can reveal a lot about a company, but it’s the “why” that tells you it’s a good company to work with.

5 Employee Questions Every Company Should Answer

What factors contribute to the “why” of employee engagement? Here are the top 5 questions I ask business and HR leaders to answer. They’re intentionally written from an employee’s point-of-view. If you answer honestly, your organization’s engagement strengths and weaknesses should become more clear:

1) “Why am I here?” How can you expect an employee to “get it” if you don’t communicate a shared sense of mission, vision and goals? Tell people why you want them to work at your company, and why you think they’ll succeed. Then you can focus on how they can achieve those goals.

2) “Why should I trust your leadership?” Open communication builds trust, which is essential to engagement. Respect is essential to mutual trust, which also contributes to engagement. Clear, open communication matters. But follow-up matters, too. Do you lead by example? Are your words consistent with your actions? The stronger the alignment, the stronger the trust.

3) “Why should I be loyal to your company?” Engaged employees know why they’re loyal – they are treated with respect. Companies that focus first on procedural activities, such as time tracking, will never see strong workforce productivity or engagement. Demonstrate your commitment and trust in employees, and they’ll respond in kind.

4) “Why don’t you communicate your company values?” Fail to show employees why core values matter, and you might as well forget about engagement. Even worse, if you talk about values and then behave in a vastly different way, you’ll telegraph just how little management actually embraces those values. Explain why a value system is important to you, and the what — the actual list of values — will follow.

5) “Why aren’t you clear about the rewards of working here?” Even in this enlightened era, surprisingly few companies are open about their approach to compensation. Yet, employees want to know what to expect in return for their contributions. You have nothing to lose by being clear and open about your reward system — including everything from pay and benefits, to vacation and bonuses, to development opportunities and career paths. Explain the why and what of your reward structure, and people will sign-on. But of course, the proof is in the pudding. It’s essential to be clear, consistent and unambiguous in creating and sharing rewards, or engagement will go out the window.

Winning Hearts And Minds: Put “Why” Before “What”

Innovative workspaces certainly have a place in the engagement mix. But that’s not the whole package. If your employees can’t answer the five questions above, all the cool workplace culture in the universe will not make a difference. First focus on the “whys” of working for your company, and you’ll win hearts and minds — regardless of what desk, chair or computer equipment you offer.

What are your thoughts about the “whys” of employee engagement? Let me know. I’m listening…

(Editor’s Note: This is adapted from a post at Forbes.com, with permission.)

Image Credit: Katie Sayer at Flick.com

Anatomy Of A Leader: Not Just Skin Deep

(Editor’s Note: This week at #TChat Events, the TalentCulture community is looking at what it will take to prepare the next generation of leaders — regardless of current age or organizational rank. We think the following commentary by Dan Newman, author of “The Millennial CEO,” is an ideal backdrop for any discussion about what is at the core of an effective leader. What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments below.)

By definition, leadership is grounded in action and not in title. We may tend to associate leadership with professional titles — such as president or CEO. But of course, simply holding an executive title doesn’t make anyone leader. In reality, the only way to be a leader, is to lead.

Let me explain. During the past few years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet and work with some fantastic business leaders. I’ve also met some individuals with great titles who couldn’t even lead a conversation about the weather, let alone a business organization. Yet somehow these people have risen to enviable professional positions. It’s impossible not to wonder — how can that happen?

Enter The “Extroleader”

One of the most interesting leadership trends I have noticed over the past several years is the emergence of the “extroleader.” What is an “extroleader,” you ask?

The term is one that I created. It applies to leaders that operate effectively as the face of an organization to the public — customers, investors and other stakeholders. The anomaly about the “extroleader” is that many of them have no internal leadership skills whatsoever.

So, while they are able to shape public opinion and they give the appearance of success to the outside world, they may not even be able to convince their assistant to schedule a lunch appointment.

Often this type of leader is driven by ego and excessive interest in personal branding, more than by interest in developing the organization and its brand.

This can be a subtle, but deadly nuance for growing organizations.

Here’s what is most interesting about this type of leader. Typically they find a way to the top because they are so capable at driving behavior outside the corporate walls. The world at-large may be enamored of an “extroleader” CEO that looks charismatic. But looks can be deceiving.

Leadership Inside Out

Great leaders are genuinely able to drive the best from everyone around them. Because they’re human, they have deficiencies, but that’s not what sets them apart. What makes them effective is their ability to make others want to be better.

For leaders in any organization, the biggest mistake is building a leadership facade that speaks to the outside world, while inside the corporate walls, your army will not fight for you. Because organizational culture is essential to achieving your business vision, you must have all hands on deck. This starts by demonstrating and reinforcing your vision, message and values within your organization.

It requires commitment to an inside-out approach — recognizing that you’ll be paid dividends by earning the respect of your team and closest stakeholders before focusing on external constituents.

A Higher Degree of Leadership Difficulty

Coming up with witty and charming content for the outside eye can be quite easy. Think about how we are often fooled or misled by politicians, athletes and media celebrities as we hang onto their every word, wanting to believe them. It’s much harder to prove yourself, day in and day out, to those with whom you work.

This is because the things you say can’t stand on their own. Others will look to see how closely your words actually match your behavior and your value system. That is critical as your team determines whether or not to follow you.

The more difficult path actually builds a more loyal following. When you prove your vision, mission and values to your team, they will fight to build and protect your organization and its brand. Ultimately, that brand will be built on a stable platform that is far sturdier than the glass house that “extroleadership” creates.

External Leadership IS OKAY!

Having said all of the above, let me clarify one important point. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a strong outside-facing leader. In fact, an effective public “face” is an important part of growing any organization.

But here’s the key: Outside leadership must match communication and behavior within the walls of the company. It’s all about consistency.

It isn’t egomaniacal to want to create an impressive organization, if the intent is good. However, when a leader paints a picture that the employees can’t see, trust or respect, the organization will struggle endlessly to reach to its potential.

So, if you’re a leader — or if you aspire to lead — I encourage you to take a close look at the source. Ask yourself honestly: Are you looking outside, first? Or are you starting within?

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

The Social Workplace: Nowhere To Hide #TChat Recap

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”
–Dalai Lama

Excellent point. But the Dalai Lama’s quote begs a key question: In the social workplace, how much transparency is too much? Moreover, what does “privacy” really mean today, for employees as well as employers?

Obviously, there are no simple answers. And best practices only continue to shift, as social tools and conventions evolve. However, this issue affects everyone in the world of work. So that’s why TalentCulture invited a social-media-savvy HR attorney to help our community explore these issues at this week’s #TChat forums. We were thrilled to welcome Mary Wright, former General Counsel at employment litigation firm Ogletree Deakins, and founding Editor of HR Gazette, a daily online newspaper for HR professionals and employment lawyers. (For event highlights, see the links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Social Disclosure: Less Is More. Or Is It?

Ubiquitous social media channels. Smartphones with cameras. (Does anyone remember “old school” film cartridges anymore?) Circles of “friends” we’ve never even met face-to-face. It seems like nothing is truly private anymore. Most of us share photos, post comments and tell the world whatever pops into our minds throughout the day. But how does all that activity expose us professionally in unwanted ways? And what are the implications for the organizations we represent?

Here’s the kicker question: In an open social environment, how can companies encourage employees to serve as brand ambassadors, while ensuring that those same individuals use appropriate discretion?

Knowledge Is Power

As many #TChat participants noted this week, the answers start at the top. Senior executives must lead by example and encourage others to follow. Treating employees with candor and respect means that candor and respect will likely be returned. Communicating company objectives and priorities helps employees feel valued and empowered. And clarifying social policies provides a framework that makes it easier for employees to comply. Sharing more information with employees doesn’t need to put employers at risk. Instead, it can create a spirit of collaboration and strengthen employee engagement.

At the same time, employers should respect employee privacy. Again, leading by example is key. Managers should avoid gossip around the office and outside of work. This sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? And yet, I’ve overheard managers openly discussing an employee’s personal hardships, including private medical information. When managers breach that kind of trust, it leaves a memorable impression for everyone involved.

Amplify This? Think Before You Go Social

These days, social media adds another dimension. Employers can no longer afford to operate without documented social media policies. But what should the guiding principle be? Here’s a simple idea from Dave Ryan:

And what is an employee’s responsibility when interpreting social policies? Jen Olney offered sound advice:

https://twitter.com/gingerconsult/status/383017281405853696

Or perhaps for some of us, that sequence should be Stop. Think. Stop some more…and more…and more…then send.

In other words, before posting a comment or photo, consider for a moment who may see that information. How might they perceive it — for better or worse? Ask yourself, “Would I want my grandmother or daughter to see what I am about to make public?” Remember, once you post it, you won’t have control over where it may be seen, or how it will be interpreted. So perhaps the very best policy is for each of us to take responsibility for ourselves, and err on the side of caution.

To see more about this week’s conversation, see the resource links and Storify highlights slideshow below. And if you have ideas, feel free to share a comment, or post in the #TChat stream. This is just the start of an ongoing dialogue — so please weigh-in anytime!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Workplace Privacy vs. Transparency

SAT 9/21:

Mary Wright

Watch the Hangout with Mary Wright now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post that features a brief G+ Hangout video with our guest, Mary Wright. Read the Preview:
“TMI: A Fresh Take On Privacy By An HR Lawyer.”

SUN 9/22:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders to consider about transparency in today’s social world. Read: “Private Workplace Lives In a Public Social Age.”

MON 9/23:

Related Article: Entrepreneur David Hassell talked about why and how trust is the most precious currency for any new venture. Read: “Want to Build a Business? Lead With Trust.”

TUE 9/24:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro shared compelling leadership lessons learened from a cultural clash at a software company in transition. Read: “5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master.”

WED 9/25:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with Mary Wright about legal issues and implications surrounding privacy in the workplace — from multiple perspectives: employers, employees and job candidates. Listen to the radio show recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered with Mary on the #TChat Twitter stream for an expanded discussion about this topic. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Transparency vs. Privacy In The Workplace

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-transparency-vs-privacy-in-the-wor.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mary Wright for adding your insights to this week’s discussion. Your legal and HR expertise added depth and perspective to a topic that increasingly affects us all.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about information sharing in the new era of social business? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we tackle another “world of work” hot topic — The Dark Side of Workplace Effectiveness — along with two of the HR community’s best-known social commentators: John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HRExaminer; and William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy Tincup & Co. So save the date (October 2) for another rockin #TChat double-header.

In the meantime, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust

If you could define business success, what would it look like to you? Would you focus on market share? Growth rate? Revenue? Profitability? Or something else?

At young companies, conversations tend to revolve around how to raise seed funding, where to invest capital, and how to compensate key contributors. Often, it seems that our perception of business success (or failure) largely revolves around money.

While it is true that a well-run company requires appropriate funding and sound financial management, I would argue that there is something even more vital to the sustained growth of any venture. It’s not something you can buy or sell — nor does it come prepackaged on a shelf.

I’m talking about trust.

Broken Trust: Good Examples Of Bad Behavior

From the Enron debacle to the Madoff scandal, stories of insider trading and fraud have captured headlines far too frequently. Our nation is losing faith in corporate leaders, and there’s a growing demand for corporate accountability and transparency.

The only way to turn this around is for those at the top to take responsibility and lead by example. We must create open, transparent cultures that promote accountability, integrity and honesty.

The truth of the matter is that employees need to know what’s going on in order to feel connected with their work and perform at their highest level. Staff concerns about the stability and the health of the company are a distraction that can erode trust, inhibit productivity and have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Creating an environment of trust goes far beyond releasing quarterly reports. It requires a daily commitment to transparency that’s infused into all aspects of business operations, and reaches all levels of the organizational chart. Most importantly, it requires team coaching and open communication across all functions, with management that listens and responds to constructive criticism.

Trust Is The Cornerstone Of Culture

Leadership legend, Stephen M. R. Covey said:

“High trust is a dividend; when it goes up you’ll find that everything happens faster and cost goes down. It’s that predictable.”

Although trust can take a long time to build, once we have achieved a state of trust, we often take it for granted. But the fact of the matter is that trust is at the core of the daily work activities that collectively make up company culture. As Deborah Mills-Scofield explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission that makes ‘work’ bigger than oneself.”

When it comes to trust, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. For example, many startups have created cultures based around staff perks like a ‘no vacation policy’ vacation policy, providing employees with top-of-the line equipment, offering flexible hours, and letting staff work from home. While benefits like these may attract and retain top talent, there’s also a higher mission. Companies that offer these unique self-directed work options are sending employees a message that says, ‘I trust you, and I trust your judgment in using these privileges.”

Earlier this year, HubSpot released its long-awaited Culture Code – a presentation that summarizes the organization’s nine core beliefs. The document is remarkable because it emphasizes that trust is at the center of Hubspot’s organization. Rather than creating binders full of company policies, HubSpot has created a simple three-word policy for nearly everything: use. good. judgment. From social media activity, to travel expenses, to sick days, HubSpot understands that a healthy company starts with trust.

The Trust/Time Ratio

Of course, trust is a two-way street. Not only is it essential for employees to trust management, but leaders must trust their teams, and feel confident in their ability to move the company forward.

As Stephen M.R. Covey explains in his book, The Speed of Trust, trust is the great liberator of time and resources. It’s also an essential condition for growth. He notes that “when trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down,” and that “when trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.” Therefore, he concludes that the speed at which you can grow a business is directly proportionate to the time that you invest in creating trusting relationships.

Leading By Letting Go

One of the most important lessons I learned as a CEO was the importance of trusting your team. As the leader of any organization, large or small, your primary job is to communicate the vision; give your people the information, tools and resources to move toward it; and then get out of the way. This frees your staff to be as productive as possible, while allowing you to focus on your responsibility to drive the company forward, strategically.

The truth is plain and simple: if you’re a leader who wants to grow a company, you must have faith in your staff to get the job done – without you hovering around their desks. It is impossible to innovate while being bogged down in the daily minutia of your company. Trust allows you to remove yourself from the details and create necessary space to focus on long-term growth.

Trust is a natural human instinct, yet we tend to over-complicate it when we try to apply it to the business world. The best way to create a culture of trust is to begin by being open and honest with ourselves and those around us. By committing to being transparent in all our interactions, we will gradually create a culture of trust around us. And as trust grows, we should expect to see business results follow.

How do create and sustain trust within your organization? What results do you see?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more...)

Image Credit: Pixabay