I once had a job where I hated going to work. On the way there I’d feel sick and I’d struggle through each day.
And every day, in the car on the way home, I would cry.
The thing is, I really enjoyed the work and liked the people who worked with me. But my gut and other, more obvious signs, told me that my boss had a problem with the way I worked.
It’s important to clarify here, I wasn’t crying cos the boss didn’t like me.
I was crying coz I felt powerless to create the efficient, safe and enjoyable workplace I wanted for my team. I felt unsupported, unheard and felt that no one had my back.
“It’s not the demands of the job that cause the most stress, but the degree of control the workers have throughout their day”. Simon Sinek
In this organisation, information sharing was on a ‘need to know’ basis which made it pretty hard to inform and train my people to get the best results. Communication was patchy and we were being asked to cut corners to meet targets.
Targets that were only revealed after I had asked way too many times.
Standards were briefly mentioned but not upheld by all. Some people behaved badly and nothing was said, others had the book thrown at them for much less.
I’ve just started reading Simon Sinek’s book, “Leaders Eat Last” and in the forward, a retired, senior figure in the US Marines, George J Flynn shares that senior leaders in the Marines are the last to line up and get food in the mess hall. They wait till their people are served.
He says that, “The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they have the privilege to lead.”
Leadership was lacking, yes, but it was the lack of care that was my biggest problem with this workplace.
The second thing that was missing, was Trust.
Have you ever been in a relationship where there’s no trust?
A marriage or a love relationship?
When a relationship lacks trust, one or both people don’t feel safe to communicate their needs and feelings.
Did you ever feel you needed to tip-toe around the other person or put on a mask to protect yourself?
It’s no different in the workplace.
When there’s low or no trust in a workplace you won’t have open communication. Your people will be guarded and reluctant to share ideas.
With you or with the team.
And when the individuals in your team put up their guard, they won’t fully engage for fear of doing or saying something wrong. So levels of creativity and curiosity will be low.
When your team’s creativity bubble is burst, they’re not going to feel safe to be curious and ask the bigger questions. They won’t have the drive or the motivation to give you 100%.
And a team that lacks motivation is not committed and won’t perform anywhere near its potential.
A team like this will not grow your business.
A team like this will not attract or retain customers
A team like this will not produce leaders.
A team like this will not stay.
Building a high trust team and workplace culture is not something you buy off a shelf, plug in and press play.
It’s an investment from the top down.
It takes time and consistent action by ALL.
The action the leader consistently take will speak volumes to the trust he or she has in the team.
It’s not enough to know the why of your team. You must truly care about the people in your team.
Needless to say, I didn't stay long at that organisation.
But the wounds that workplace culture inflicted scarred me for much longer.
The final word goes to Mr. Sinek,
“Highest loyalty and lowest churn is when those at the top have got the backs of those in the front line and those on the front line look after each other”.
It's up to you to start creating your high trust team.
If this has sparked curiosity about your team, let's have a chat.
Emma Taberner is a qualified Leadership and Executive Coach, Speaker, Facilitator, author and self-confessed Human Behaviour nerd. With over 20 years Supply Chain industry experience and 10 years coaching and mentoring frontline leaders, she is passionate about helping people to understand how their behaviours determine their effectiveness and success in business, relationships and in life. Emma works One to One, with groups, both face 2 face and online. She focuses on small business owners and their teams to create engaged leaders and sustainable business growth.
When she’s not building future leaders you can find her flying small planes, being in the outdoors, growing her own food and hanging out with her husband of over 20 years.